That's the problem with this "game" is that it's not necessarily logical or even comparable to writing code.
There a lot of human variables that you cannot predict or "make" happen. Sometimes it takes a little bit of luck, hell, probably often. However, that's not to say you can't make it work over time, and that, I guess is the message. If you keep at it, eventually something will kick in... but you can't expect it overnight.
It's undoubtedly discouraging to see people who appear to become successful overnight, or always lucky, and I'm sure some do and are, but for the most part it's probably a slow process or there's much more going on behind the scenes that you simply don't know about that lead to their success.
No matter how much research you do, no matter how many steps you follow, settings you copy, sources you research, hashtags you master, you still may not reach what you're expecting in a certain period of time - but you will have an advantage over those who don't, so just keep trying until you've built the social engineering AI of your dreams.
I know I'm still struggling to build mine out of green coffee beans and harvested yeast cultures... and I'm mad on a daily basis, but yet I keep going.