Discover more from Growth Croissant
Share Your Work to Grow Your Audience
Welcome to a fresh edition of Growth Croissant! 🚀 🥐
I’m Reid, your host on this journey. I’ve been lucky to be part of incredible teams that launched and grew some of the most well-known consumer subscription products: Hulu, Crunchyroll,
HBO Max, and now Substack.
Growth Croissant will be an evolving home for our learnings, painful lessons, and frameworks for making hard decisions. My goal is to deliver you a comprehensive and actionable guidebook on how to grow your business.
We’ve spent quite a bit of time discussing how to improve retention — let’s turn our attention toward growing your audience and getting new subscribers.
Most successful consumer products go through a period of growing organically, then start to build out repeatable growth channels, including paid marketing and partnership efforts.Most of these products tend to build their initial audiences on social platforms, usually starting with a focused approach on one platform, and then gradually expanding to new platforms.
Our post on No Laying Up ("NLU") — a leading golf media business — provides a great example. The NLU team has always focused on Twitter (I can’t bring myself to call it “X” yet) as the primary platform for engaging with their audience and reaching new people. NLU has only recently expanded to other social platforms (e.g., Instagram, TikTok), using those channels to highlight compelling clips of videos from their YouTube channel or from their podcast feed.
Many publications on Substack are growing their audience and subscribers by sharing to social.and the team behind the are one of the best examples, having created a systematic approach to sharing to LinkedIn and Twitter. And it seems to be paying off — just recently, Alex announced that ByteByteGo had surpassed an incredible milestone:
Let’s dive into how Alex and the team behind ByteByteGo use LinkedIn and Twitter to build their audience and drive subscriber growth. But first, a few notes.
There are many different ways to build an audience, and there’s no universal right way to go about it. ByteByteGo’s approach to sharing is sophisticated and requires a ton of effort and investment. The goal isn't to copy ByteByteGo's approach, but hopefully these examples inspire a few ideas for how you can share to social and grow your subscribers.
Sharing comes easier to some writers than others. Writing on the internet is already a vulnerable act, so it’s understandable if you feel a little discomfort when sharing and promoting that work to a broader group.But if you want to reach a wider audience, or if you’re trying to build a business, finding a way to consistently share to social — that makes sense for you — can open up a valuable growth channel.
Okay, let’s dive in.
Systematic approach to sharing
ByteByteGo (“BBG”) has enjoyed exceptional growth in part because they’ve set up a system for sharing its work to Twitter and LinkedIn (which makes sense for its professional-oriented audience). The team has built sizable followings on both platforms and has done a great job driving that audience back to their newsletter.
An integral part of BBG’s approach is turning various events into sharing moments. They constantly try new things and continuously tweak the details. BBG also invests in maximizing the effectiveness of its social posts, including working with animators and illustrators to create beautiful, eye-catching visuals.
Nailing the basics
From the images of Alex’s profiles below, the first thing to note is that the newsletter is prominently linked and easy to find for new visitors. In virtually every social post below, there’s a link back to a simple landing page focused on the email entry form. Through testing, the BBG team found that a focused landing page usually converts better than linking to a post or a more detailed landing page.
On LinkedIn, Alex does a great job of using the Featured post row, highlighting the in-depth PDF on system design that new subscribers get as part of their welcome email. First-time visitors are able to quickly find BBG’s most valuable writing and are probably more likely to become engaged subscribers.
Sharing a post
If you’re looking to grow your subscribers, a good starting point is to consider how to turn publishing each post into a sharing moment.
For seemingly every one of BBG’s newsletter posts, there’s a corresponding post on LinkedIn and Twitter. ByteByteGo will often share bite-size newsletter topics or ideas to social, leaving the in-depth discussion for the newsletter.
On LinkedIn, there’s usually a short hook that’s fully visible before the “see more…” link. BBG uses compelling images that appear prominently in the LinkedIn feed, drawing people in and leading to more folks clicking to unfurl the full post. After being unfurled, the main points of the newsletter post are listed, followed by a prompt to subscribe to the newsletter (there’s usually a similar post on Twitter).
Below is an example of how ByteByteGo will share bite-size topics with only the most salient bullet points, with most of the insights and details covered in the newsletter.
Here’s another example of a more image-centric post for LinkedIn and Twitter:
With this approach, publishing a post becomes a meaningful recurring sharing moment — an excellent tool for building a following on social and bringing on new subscribers.
Previewing upcoming posts
ByteByteGo will occasionally share a preview of each week's upcoming posts. These schedules help existing readers know what to expect and nudge followers to become subscribers.of is another writer who does an excellent job teasing upcoming posts. Roughly 24 hours before the post is published, Edwin will share a teaser on Twitter. Edwin’s audience includes investors who value timely analysis, making these previews particularly impactful. Here are a few examples:
Another moment ByteByteGo leans into for sharing is celebrating subscriber milestones. These milestones provide an excellent opportunity to thank existing subscribers for their support and to show compelling social proof for prospective subscribers. BBG also uses this opportunity to spotlight some of its most popular posts, helping new readers find their best work.
Another moment worth marking your calendar for is when you launched your publication or business. Many writers on Substack write anniversary posts, sharing their stories, reflections, and plans for the future (e.g., Platformer, Doomberg, Popular Information). ByteByteGo turns its anniversary into a shareable moment, using it as another opportunity to surface the best posts and encourage folks to subscribe.
Turning on paid subscriptions
Launching paid subscriptions is another crucial sharing moment, providing an opportunity to highlight any extra value paid subscribers get and encouraging your audience to support you with a paid subscription.
When ByteByteGo turned on payments earlier this year, they offered a launch discount for anyone who became a paid subscriber in the first three days. Launch promotions can be especially effective for encouraging followers on social to upgrade to a paid subscription. One week after turning on paid subscriptions, Alex highlighted that BBG had made it into the Technology leaderboard, thanking subscribers for their support (and surfacing valuable social proof).
Alex and the ByteByteGo team have built a systematic approach to sharing their work on Twitter and LinkedIn, turning various events into valuable sharing moments. For BBG, sharing to social is baked into the process of publishing a post, creating a repeatable sharing moment. As someone who has struggled with sharing my writing on more of an ad-hoc basis, I admire the more systematic approach to sharing by Alex and the ByteByteGo team.
ByteByteGo’s approach will probably not work for you. But maybe the examples above can spark ideas that make sense for you. Think about your audience — what’s the best way to communicate with them and find more people like them? Think about your publication or business — what events or milestones could you turn into shareable moments? How could you get into an easier, more effective rhythm of sharing, or create more of a systematic approach to sharing?
If you’re looking for more inspiration for sharing to Twitter or LinkedIn, here are a few accounts worth exploring and following:
As always, I’d love to hear from you — reply to this email or drop a comment below.
Thanks for reading,
It’s possible to lean on paid marketing out of the gate, but it’s risky — it’s easy to fool yourself into thinking you have an audience that cares about what you’re doing. If you’re running ads early on, I would pay very close attention to the quality of subscribers, and whether subs coming in from paid ads are sharing and sparking organic audience growth.
One other note — the most successful approach to paid ads uses data about your existing audience that really cares about your product to target tangential audiences. Without the former, it’s hard to get to the latter.
Even knowing how valuable it is, I still struggle massively with sharing the Croissant to social.