When people ask me what’s more difficult, writing a blog post or composing a tweet, my answer is a tweet, hands down! “But that makes no sense,” they say, “a tweet is so much shorter!”
Well that’s exactly why crafting content for Twitter is so damn hard. In no other medium is there more pressure to exercise economy with your words. Anyone can spew verbal diarrhea, but crafting a clever, informative, or inspiring quote in 140 characters or less? That takes mad skills.
In September of this year Twitter took at least some of the load off by making it so that the images, GIFs, and polls we love to post no longer took up any of our very valuable character count, but composing a brilliant soundbite still presents its challenges. Below are seven tricks to help you get it right.
Tweet some killer copy
David Ogilvy, the father of advertising said:
“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”
Twitter basically deals in headlines only and telling a story in 140 characters is no easy feat. Headlines set the tone for what your audience is about read. So the question is, how can you craft kickass Twitter headlines? Keep in mind that research shows that people tend to process only the first and last 3 words of a headline. What comes in between will mostly get overlooked, so in the case of longer tweets, the placement of your key messages is, well, key!
And what makes a good headline? Kissmetrics suggests the SHINE formula:
- Specific: Be specific and concrete. Facts and figures can be a big help.
- Helpful: Show your readers the problem you’re going to help solve.
- Immediate: Create a sense of urgency. Show your audience whey they need to engage with your content ASAP.
- Newsworthy: Nobody is interested in yesterday’s news, especially on Twitter. Keep it fresh.
- Entertaining: To really stand out, leave your readers with a little smile.
Take a look at this super helpful infographic from Quicksprout for some inspiration on winning headline formats.
Use all the right words
A tweet can be a maximum of 140 characters, so efficiency is key. According to social media scientist Dan Zarrella, tweets with exclamation marks are retweeted more than tweets without. Even your choice of words can determine the reach of your tweets. For example, research shows that words like ‘Social’, ‘Blog,’ and ‘Follow’ score a higher number of retweets compared to words like ‘Listening’, ‘Lol,’ and ‘Work’.
Zarrella also found that action words such as verbs and adverbs yield a higher click-through rate for tweets with links.
Twitter has conducted its own research, concluding that a good way to optimize your tweets is including calls-to-action such as asking for a retweet, a follow, or a reply.
As in any other form of marketing, psychology plays a major part in social media. Each of your tweets should trigger some sort of emotion for your audience. Here are some of the most powerful:
Good news travel faster. Researchers from the Universities of California and Yale found that positive emotions spread quickly on social networks, so sharing something happy and lighthearted is more likely to make your tweets successful.
The Harvard Business Review identified surprise as the most powerful marketing tool and researchers from Emory University and Baylor College of Medicine found that surprise stimulates the human brain in a positive way, suggesting that we find unexpected pleasures more rewarding than those we anticipate. Check out some surprising ways to engage with your Twitter audience here.
Carnegie Mellon University professor George Loewenstein coined the ‘curiosity gap’ as the gap between what we know and what we want to know. So when we notice a gap in our knowledge, there’s an opportunity to exploit that curiosity.
Publishers like Upworthy and Buzzfeed are famous for capitalizing on Loewenstein’s theory not only in their articles but also in their tweets. They give just enough information to leave the audience eager to click through and find out more.
Enhance your tweets with compelling visuals
Twitter suggests that amplifiers (Twitter users that are most likely to retweet a post) are also the most likely to view photos on Twitter (90%) and tweet photos (107%) and videos (89%). This should come as no surprise when you hear that visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text in the human brain. Good visuals can help you stand from the crowd.
Let’s take a look at three simple tools that can help you create compelling images.
Canva is a great tool for creating professional social media-ready images in 3 minutes or less.
With Piktochart you can create infographics almost instantaneously.
Wideo is a handy tool for creating video content. The free version offers a selection of templates and a maximum length of 45 seconds, which is the ideal length for a social media post.
Mind your characters
When writing your tweet, remember that size does matter. Social media scientist, Dan Zarrella suggests that tweets between 100 and 115 characters are most likely to be retweeted. And if you really need to get it all out, Twitter Mail is a Twitter Counter feature that lets you eke in more than 140 characters, for when you’re feeling particularly chatty.
Harness the power of the hashtag
Twitter is the birthplace of the hashtag. Use them to be a part of a larger conversation within the Twittersphere. Use them to tag and categorise information. Use them to be more easily discoverable by your audience. Hashtags can boost a post from good to great. They can also be a powerful social media marketing tool because:
- Hashtags allow you to connect with your audience across different platforms in a consistent, unified way.
- They help amplify your message and boost your visibility.
- They make content easier to discover via a quick search.
- They allow marketers to launch integrated campaigns across various platforms.
- They can kickstart a discussions with your audience or jump into conversations already taking place.
- They can maximize social media engagement.
Social media science has proved that Twitter hashtags drive engagement. Tweets that contain one (or more) hashtag are 55% more likely to be retweeted than tweets missing that crosshatch mark.
However, like with all things in life moderation is key. Tweets with one or two hashtags result in 21% more engagement than tweets with 3 or more. After that third hashtag, engagement drops by 17%. Guess you can have too much of a good thing.
How can you make sure that you use the right hashtags for your business? Enter My Tracker, a service from Twitter Counter that lets you listen to the Twitter conversations that are most relevant to your business. Run one, five, or an unlimited number of trackers to keep tabs on popular hashtags and key words you need most.
Timing can really make a difference
In a recent study, Buffer found that the highest amount of engagement per tweet occurs between 11 P.M. and 5 A.M., peaking between 2 A.M. and 3 A.M. In older research, Dan Zarrella found that, if your goal is retweets, the best time to tweet is in the afternoon, peaking at 5 P.M., with a frequency of 1 to 4 tweets per day. In contrast, Bit.ly’s findings suggest that afternoon postings earlier in the week are your best chance at achieving a high click count (1 P.M. to 3 P.M. Monday through Thursday).
At the end of the day, when and how often you should tweet will vary from account to account depending on audience size, time zone, type of content etc. But with Twitter Counter’s Best Time to Tweet feature, you can discover the best days and times for you to tweet based on your specific engagement stats. The customized analytics will help you boost your account’s visibility and influence.
What’s important to remember is that nothing in the digital world is ever written in stone (rather in binary code). Yes, there are best practices to try and competitor’s leads to follow, but your audience is unique, and so is what works for them. In order to find it, you’re going to have to experiment while keeping an eye on key metrics like engagement, growth, traffic, and leads. Click here to see the Twitter Counter features that can help put you on the fast track to Twitter success.