Grow your audience with HustleCool [Tutorial]

Matej Trajkovski
Updated: 24/11/2018
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The social media game has three essential sets of actions that marketers regularly perform to pick up speed for their brands and get advantage over their competitors. Besides the odd times you manage some rare events or situations, those are growing your audience, engaging your audience, and creating content. In this post we will go over how to grow your audience using HustleCool.

Growing your audience is a complicated process that depends on a lot of factors. Pretty much everything you do on social media has a consequence, your every action, no matter how small or insignificant, is observed by an algorithm that determines how much visibility and exposure your account and content get based on the reactions of other people in your network and many other factors that have nothing to do with your network too. While many of those things are within your control, it is virtually impossible to predict how the audience, and therefore the algorithms, will rate your actions. Yes, you are at the mercy of others and a few megabytes of computer code. Fear not though, because there is one weapon in your arsenal for growth that is hard to lose - that's the follow/unfollow strategy.

The follow/unfollow strategy is a simple but powerful concept. For most networks, one of the few guaranteed ways to get in front of a user is to follow them. You are awesome, and your product will have tremendous benefits on your customers, so you want to let as many people know about it as you can. That's why you follow someone. When you follow a user, you enter their field of vision, no matter how minimally or briefly, you are in their life. The truth is, everybody likes a new follower, everybody loves that little notification number (which is how the social networks got us hooked btw), everybody loves being the object of interest of someone, even though that initial excitement is immediately followed by a bitter disappointment when the user sees she's not being followed by a love interest but by a marketer pushing crocks. Still, there's a window of opportunity for the user to become intrigued or interested. If that happens, the user will follow you back. You're in.

Again, there are a lot of factors here. It makes sense to try and follow people that you would assume are interested in hearing about your product. That will increase the likelihood of them following back greatly. It is a bit of a numbers game really, you need to be constant but careful at the same time.

One thing playing out in your favour is that HustleCool's Grow context was built exclusively for this purpose, and we're continually working on adding useful features that increase your chances of getting that desired follow back. You will experiment a lot until you find your perfect settings, but we will present the ones considered to be best practice, which are also set by default when you set up an account.


Each account has a set of settings related to how the audience for that account will be increased. Besides the Leads Sources and the Filters, the settings will not be frequently updated. Not every setting applies for every social network, so every setting has besides it the icons of the social networks it applies to.

Leads Sources are the sources where you'll get your leads to follow from. It is a text field where you enter your sources separated by a comma. On every request for leads, we'll obtain leads for some of the leads sources. The result set won't contain leads from all the sources because that would result in extremely slow queries, instead each team or account will only get leads from one or two of its sources (and one from its influencers or competitors). Leads sources can take entries with three different operators.

1) The "from:username" operator, where the "from:" keyword is followed by the username of a social media user. This operator returns a result set of the followers of the user specified. The operator will try and obtain the user's latest followers, but if there are no new leads since the last check it will continue where it had stopped previously and go down the list of followers.
2) The plain word or phrase operator. Ok, not technically an operator, it's just a keyword that gets users that are relevant to that keyword. This operation gets users that have either recently posted something about the topic, or the social networks somehow consider them relevant to that phrase.
3) The hashtag operator. This one gets you back users with that hashtag in their profile description, or users that have posted on that hashtag.

The list of leads sources will be moderately updated until you hit a hot streak and find topics and sources that give you the best return of investment and follow you back the most.

The social networks have a few rules when it comes to deciding how much users they let you follow. Those numbers vary mostly by your current numbers, but other parameters are in play as well, such as whether you're using their app itself or using a third party client like HustleCool. Common sense works wonders here, as you might have guessed trying to follow 3000 people in one day gets you banned pretty much on every network. Almost the same goes for massive unfollowing of people, with research stating that unfollowing is slightly less restrictive than following. This is where the account targets and limits come into play. Once your account has reached its daily follow and unfollow targets, you'll get a notification of that. If your targets are sensible and you achieve them, you'll stop right then and there. In case you're trigger happy and like to click fast a lot, you can set up the limits too, in which case the actions will not be permitted to perform. These are targets and limits you set on your own and you can change them any time, the limit is more of a safety feature. Some social networks, like Twitter, increase the number of users you might follow as your audience numbers grow, and you'll want to occasionally update your targets as limits as well.

A recent trend in the way social networks limit automation and mass following is by using smaller intervals for the limits, so instead of only limiting you to 150 followings per day, they limit you to following 30 users in 10 minutes as well. As usual, HustleCool will address that limitation by introducing a new feature where the followings are only approved by you, and are in effect scheduled and we will perform them for you when the time is right. The feature is expected to be live in the following month.

One important switch that you're gonna want to leave turned on the whole time is the "New Leads Only" switch. The label pretty much sums up the feature - when you follow a user and then unfollow that same ungrateful person after not following you back, the next time you get leads in a result set that jerk is guaranteed to not be in the result set. That way everyone gets only one follow request wasted on them.

When you first follow a user, you want to give her a tolerance period in which she notices your request and reacts to it positively. By setting the "Days until unfollow" value, you simply say how many days do you want to give that user to follow you back before you unfollow her. We've found that the perfect balance between giving users enough time and not stacking up too many non-followers is two days.

Sometimes, some beautiful brilliant cool genius will follow you without you following him first. Yes, that happens, more often than you think actually (and sometimes it's a real user too :)). If you want to see those users in the leads result set and decide on whether to follow them back, have the "Follow Back Admirers" switch turned on.

Some of our users have decided on using a strategy that is both a little ungrateful and effective at the same time - they want to unfollow the users that follow them back as well! While we personally don't recommend doing that and we advise on staying in touch with your audience as much as possible, we realise that it might be a useful feature, so by choosing "Who To Unfollow" you can unfollow either those not following you back or those that follow you too.

The previously described properties are all part of the growth strategy of every account. That is only half of the story. The other half are the filters.


Filters are reusable objects that you define once and can later add or remove on a result set. For the time being, the same filters are used for both the Grow and Engage contexts, though that might change in the future. You can define multiple filters and add and remove them on a result set, which is something we recommend doing and you will probably find useful too. When more than one filter are applied on a result set, they will all be filtering on that result set. By defining multiple filters with various degrees of rigour and targeting different segments, you can exhaust a result set with the utmost certainty that it is being fully utilized. You will be following all your targeted users, identifying influencers or competitors or partners, finding new hashtags, deciding how much to engage before following and all other sorts of crazy things.

Every filter must have a unique name among all your other filters. There are dozens of properties you can filter on. Some properties are only used when the filter is used in the Engage context, and they have the "(content)" suffix following their name. For now we're gonna cover all the Grow parameters:

- User Profile Privacy: do you want to see only public users, only private users, or both?
- User Profile Verification: do you want to see only verified users, only non-verified users, or both?
- Has Profile Image: do you want to see users with their profile image set, not set, or both?
- Timezones: from which timezones should the user be?
- Languages: which languages should the users in the result set be speaking? (coming soon)
- Min Followers: what is the minimum number of followers the user must have to appear in the result set?
- Max Followers: what is the maximum number of followers that the user can to appear in the result set?
- Min Following: what is the minimum number of users that the user must be following to appear in the result set?
- Max Following: what is the maximum number of users that the user can be following to appear in the result set?
- Followers/Following Ratio From: the lowest acceptable ratio between the number of followers and the number of users following the user for to appear in the result set
- Followers/Following Ratio To: the highest acceptable ratio between the number of followers and the number of users following the user for to appear in the result set
- Min Likes: what is the minimum number of posts that the user has liked?
- Max Likes: what is the maximum number of posts that the user has liked?
- Min Posts: what is the minimum number of posts that the user must have created?
- Max Posts: what is the maximum number of posts that the user could have created?
- Average Posts per Day (Min): what is the minimum number of posts that the user has averaged per day since the time of creating the account?
- Average Posts per Day (Max): what is the maximum number of posts that the user could have averaged per day since the time of creating the account?
- Min Account Age (days): the minimum number of days passed since the creation of the account.
- Max Account Age (days): the maximum number of days passed since the creation of the account.
- Last Activity (days): the maximum number of days passed since the last post of the user.
- Has Description: whether the user has set up the bio or description of her account(coming soon)
- Url in Description: whether the bio or description of the account contains a website address (coming soon)

The properties that are not set or are left with their value being 0 are ignored when applying that filter.

There is another way that the filter objects can be utilized. Instead of actually removing results from the result set, the filters might just add a label to every result that would have passed the filter. If this is the desired way of work, instead of setting the Filters checkboxes, the Labels checkboxes are set. Labels are useful for quickly identifying users that would fit into a predefined category.

The use of filters and labels will be subject to frequent changes in your daily workflow. The whole beauty of the filter objects is that they themselves will be seldom changed, they will only be switched on or off when exploring a result set. For the easiest management of filters, we recommend using more different and granular filters, filtering on as few properties as possible to define a type of behaviour on social media. That way you will rarely have to change the filter objects, you will only turn them on or off.

The default strategy that has been tried and tested by the HustleCool team includes gradually increasing the grow targets and limits as the account audience grows, until the final limit of the social network has been reached, while going through the result sets by applying the following filters and labels, which come as the default ones if the user chooses to have them when registering:

- Real User: this is a simple but powerful filter which is used to filter on a result set. The User Profile Privacy property is set to Public, the Has Profile Image is turned on, meaning that the user must have a profile image set, both Min Followers and Min Following are set to 10, Min Posts is set to 30 and Max Posts is set to 50000. The Last Activity property is set to 20 days. We've found that this filter commonly filters out many spammers, bots and other fraudulent users. This filter will almost always be left on for every result set.
- Enthusiast: this filter will be used as both a filter and a label. It will be used to identify enthusiastic users of social networks, possible brand ambassadors and smaller influencers. This filter keeps users that have public profiles with custom profile images, they have a profile description and a set of roughly defined numbers that potentially describe an enthusiast, such as having between 50 and 5000 followers, following between 50 and 2000 people, have placed between 100 and 10.000 likes, and have between 100 and 20.000 posts. Their account is at least one month old and they have been active in the last 10 days. This is a very liberal filter, you'll probably want to customize or make it more precise.
- Influencer: this filter will be primarily used as a label, and only occasionally as a filter. It will be used to identify influential users. This filter keeps users that have public profiles with custom profile images, they have a profile description, they are followed by at least 10.000 people but they themselves don't follow more than 10.000 people. They are listed at least 10 times (on Twitter only), have at least 500 tweets, have been a member for at least 6 months and have been active in the last 3 days. Again, this is not a catch-all filter and you'll probably end up having multiple filters and use them as labels to hunt down potential influencers.

We haven't found any other set of properties defining a filter that has as much power as the ones defined above. You are welcome to tweak them around and explore, and we'd love to hear about your experiments and your success with updating the existing filters or creating new ones. If you're lazy and just want results fast, you'll rarely find a real need to change the existing or add new filters.


If you're an advanced user or are a part of a digital or a marketing agency or team, you will most likely manage more than one account per network. For a set of accounts that all have similar or identical niches and aim to target the same market segments, we recommend placing those accounts in a team. Accounts in teams have various enhancements depending on the context being worked, for the Grow context they benefit from advanced audience research and division of labour.

Accounts in a team can take advantage of two features in the Grow context. The first one, "Shuffle Suggestions", is whether the results should be shuffled, with the goal being preventing the performing of too many actions from one account too fast and thus ending up suspended or banned. The second feature is "Don't follow same users in team", which is used when multiple accounts target the same audience to follow. By having this feature turned on, your accounts are guaranteed to never try to follow the same lead. The rationale behind this feature is that if a target lead is not interesting in following one account for a given field of interest, it will not be interested in following another account neither, so the ultimate goal is being economical about the follow requests being spent unwisely, since follow requests are limited and thus valuable.

Leads and Unfollows

When clicking "Get Unfollows", you get users to unfollow depending on your defined strategy, and "Get Leads" gets you the resulting leads depending on your strategy as well. For convenience and better insight into your lead's interest, the last one or more pieces of content are fetched as well. It is possible to engage with these pieces of content, usually in every way that the social network allows engagement to happen, and it is something that we highly recommend as it drastically improves your chances of being followed back. As most networks have a way of showing the appreciation for a piece of content by doing some kind of a "like" action, it is the common denominator for nearly any network. There's also the sharing action, the quote action which is for the moment only available for Twitter, and of course the comment action, also available pretty much everywhere. We recommend natural use of these features as if you would use them as a regular user on a social network, meaning liking and sharing what you like or feel the need to share, and commenting when inspired to voice your opinion, contribute to the discussion, or just have some fun. Clicking the follow button sends a follow request to the user and removes him from the result set, so make sure to do all the engagement before following. If you think the user is either a potential partner of yours, a competitor or an influencer, you can assign that user any of the fitting role and engage with her in different ways later. If you feel the need to mute or block a user, you will be able to do so in some of the coming versions. For your convenience, all of the usernames, hashtags and urls contained in either the user's profile description or the pieces of content presented are extracted below the piece of content, and are available to you to either add as leads sources or interests, assign roles to the users, or simply visit the urls. For a lead that you don't wish to follow, you click "Done" and that lead is gone.

Another powerful feature is the hotkeys available to you for faster workflow. For the moment, in the Grow context we have 4 hotkeys available, and 3 gesture actions for when on a phone or a tablet. The "F" hotkey or the swipe right action on a phone follows the top user in the result set. The "L" hotkey or the double tap on a phone likes the piece of content of the first user in the result set. The "R" hotkey shares the piece of content of the first user in the result set. The "D" hotkey or the swipe left action on a phone removes the user from the result set, same as pressing "Done".


By following the tactics described in this extensive guide, you will be implementing a very sound and thoroughly tested way of organically growing your audience for free without ever getting in trouble with the social networks. Performing the growth actions takes anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes per account, depending on the diligence and effort in selecting the leads, with of course the slower approach being more demanding in time but resulting in greater relevance and engagement later on.

We would love to hear your thoughts on this strategy, how is it working for you, or do you have any suggestions for improvement.

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