How do you get more Twitter followers? That’s one question most Twitter users have asked themselves at one point or another. “Experts” claim a number of different strategies: engagement, sharing quality content, using hashtags, catering to your niche, etc. But Greg Burney (@GregBurney) of Minnis Bay has his own creative way of gaining Twitter followers—by agreeing to draw them.
On October 31, Burney tweeted that he would hand-draw everyone who follows him in the following two weeks.
I will hand-draw the profile picture of every new follower I get for the next TWO WEEKS, then I will tweet it to them. Please Retweet!
— Greg Burney (@GregBurney) October 31, 2011
Luckily we got the chance to ask him a few questions (in between sketches of followers) regarding his creative campaign.
Why did you start #drawmyfollowers?
I’m really interested in connecting with people in personal ways across the Internet. I was inspired by the work of ZeFrank—particularly Young Me Now Me—in which users post a photograph of themselves as a child, then try to recreate it as closely as possible as an adult. Projects like Young Me Now Me are very powerful because they bring people together to create something massive, just for the fun of it. I wanted to do something similar.
#drawmyfollowers evolved from another small ongoing project called Drawing Chat Roulette. Chat Roulette has a mode in which you can draw on the screen for the other user to see. So I sat on Chat Roulette with my Wacom Tablet and drew whoever came up. I’m not particularly good at illustrating, but it made every person smile, and there was small, instant connection between me and them. It was a good feeling, and I wanted to do it on a bigger scale. I moved over to Twitter and started “Goodbye Social Life”. A search on Twitter shows someone tweeting the phrase “Goodbye Social Life” every few minutes. So I made an account called “Social Life” (@byesociallife) and said “Goodbye” back! Why? I don’t know, but it made a small connection with people and made them laugh. I learnt that people loved to be drawn and I also learnt that Twitter is the best place for these small connections.
Three days ago I sent this tweet to legendary typographer Erik Spiekermann, “I will be hand-drawing the profile picture of every follower I get in the next two weeks. Please Retweet.” He retweeted it to 180,000 people, all people following Spiekermann because they are interested in design, so it was the perfect audience. I went from 80 followers to 700 in two days. And I started drawing.
What are your expectations?
I want to get other illustrators and artists involved, letting them do guest drawings. I have an audience of people interested in design so its perfect place to help promote friends other artists. It would be amazing to ask some big names on Twitter to complete the final, say, 10 drawings. But I will wait for the two week deadline to come before I do that, incase they retweet it and I get an unmanageable influx of new followers…
I aim to complete this as soon as possible and—once finished—hope it will provide me with some opportunities in the world of social media. Perhaps even career opportunities in social media, graphic design or branding, who knows. I hope every follower is happy with the result, and I also hope to become a much better illustrator, which is sorely needed…
Dashing Industries (@DashingIND) is a clothing label a friend and I set up last year. All the clothing and graphic design is done by myself. We focus on simple, bold designs on high-quality garments. We are growing slowly but surely—use the discountcode “GeniusRocket” and get 10% off! I study Visual Arts at the University of Greenwich, which is a fantastic course where I focus on branding.
Here at GeniusRocket we crowdsource concepts to make TV commercials. Do you think of your own campaign as a form of crowdsourcing, in that you are crowdsourcing your followers as subjects for your art?
Yes I certainly do. I needed the crowd in order to complete the project, and being retweeted by Erik Spiekermann provided me with the perfect crowd possible. My new followers are awesome, and very supportive and enthusiastic about the project. (My old followers are awesome too.)
Any chance you can sketch a quick GeniusRocket logo for us?
Absolutely, then I’m off to do 50 more drawings before bed.