Karan Thakkar (@geekykaran) is not a marketer. He is a coder.

That gives him a unique perspective on marketing, especially since his first foray into marketing rightly earned him the title of amateur “growth hacker.”

Growth hacking is a way to grow a business/website/social profile as fast as possible with the least effort possible. It usually involves coding.

Karan considers himself a growth hacker because he used simple tactics and a few programming scripts to grow his Twitter following from 300 to 5,000 in three weeks as documented on Medium.com.

When I read the article on Medium, I immediately wanted to interview him to see if I could get any additional behind-the-scenes information on his Twitter growth strategies. Across a series of questions I sent him via email, he gave me a few gems on the specific tactics he used, and how he was able to hack the Twitter growth process.

1. Can you give us a quick idea of your background and why you wanted to grow your Twitter followers?

I am a part of the front end team at Crowdfire [a social media and content platform] … The reason why I wanted to grow my twitter audience/outreach was majorly because of a competition we had within the company called “Crowdfire Twitter Premier League.”

2. Can you give us an overview of the specific tactics you used?

Sure. So we had three rounds with different goals. To sum up the strategy I used per round:

a. Maximize follower gain

For this I first figured out influencers, blogs and brands that tweeted content that I was most interested in. Then I used my follow script to follow their latest followers. I did not just use up my follow limit on one accounts’ followers but spread it over multiple accounts. This ensured that the people I was following were active.

b. Maximize engagement per tweet

The first thing I had to do was find good content. Best source was Medium. I searched for interesting content related to marketing, social media, growth hacking. Then I used Buffer to schedule this content. Based on the analytics of each tweet, I decided which piece needed to be rescheduled for bringing in maximum engagement.

c. Maximize engagement per follower

For this, I built a script that would monitor a list of accounts that posted great content, after which I tweeted the same content from my account.

3. Is there an easy way for someone who is a marketer with very little coding experience to implement your scripts? If so, can you describe it here?

Yes, absolutely! You can use this link to understand how to open the Chrome Developer tools. Once you’ve done that, just copy and paste the scripts that I have mentioned in my post. As for the script that I used in the last round, it is not so straightforward to set up if you don’t have prior coding experience. But I’d be happy to help anyone who needs to set it up.

4. Have you had any backlash from Twitter with your growth tactics?

No. Apart from the painful rate limits everyday during the competition — none. However, I do advise everyone to use all of these tactics judiciously.

5. Out of all the tactics you shared, which one drove the most “high quality” follower growth?

Over a period of three weeks, the statistics made me realize that I gained approximately 33% of the followers purely from pushing out great content. So while I would say that following more people is a great way to increase your followers, you should not underestimate the power of good content.

6. If you could do the contest all over again, what would you do differently to further blow everyone out of the water?

While most of my ideas were already used for this contest, there is one trick that I have found quite rewarding at times: The probability of getting a follow back from someone increases if they see a lot of activity by you on their tweets (in terms of favorites/retweets).

So I go to a person’s profile and favorite some of their interesting tweets. Then I follow them, leading to a higher chance for a follow back. This theory is based on the The Reciprocity Principle: “Start by giving before taking, and people will reciprocate.” Unfortunately, there is no way to automate this. Yet.

7. What tangible benefits have you seen as a result of your Twitter growth?

One that particularly blew my mind was being approached by the founder of a popular online gaming firm to join their Growth Team (and possibly head the team). Other than that, I was also contacted on LinkedIn by a couple of startup founders. Also, a lot of people reached out on Twitter [and] email, requesting me to help them set up certain scripts on their machine. Some of them were ready to pay for the setup.

8. What was the most interesting thing you learned from the contest experience?

Before the competition, I never [thought] that social media or marketing would ever interest me. Mostly because I thought I would not be good at it. The contest, however, helped me discover a different side of myself — the little marketer bug that I don’t usually use. I just had to explore it a little more. After all, like Andrew Chen says, “Growth hackers are a hybrid of a marketer and a coder.”

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Email Summit 2015 According to Twitter: Your peers share their key takeaways from Day 1 on engaging, empowering and serving customers [From the MarketingSherpa blog]

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