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It’s funny when you think that the less room you have to say something, the more difficult it seems to be. Knowing how to write a tweet is one thing but how do you write the perfect tweet? And is there even such a thing as a perfect tweet?
Is it worth tweeting?
For a couple of years now, there’s been this idea that Twitter has had its day and that people shouldn’t really bother with it. Headlines writers were talking about the death of Twitter and the hashtag #RIPTwitter was trending.
Okay, so the site isn’t growing the way that Instagram or Snapchat is growing. But the website still has over 300 million active monthly users based on 2016 figures and the site remains the best place to get a constant stream of news, albeit some of it of questionable nature.
One of the big problems facing Twitter at the moment is the staggering number of fake or automated accounts out there. Spambots, as they are known, transform the site from a micro-news site cum social media network cum engagement platform to a false broadcasting channel. And that’s why people are turning away from it.
Stick with it
Yet as a blogger or small business owner, there are benefits to being on Twitter and it is almost expected that you have a presence on the site, right alongside Facebook. You get a funny look if there’s no little blue bird in your list of social media icons because everyone is on Twitter.
According to those who know more than me, the key to Twitter is to focus on engaging with people, providing useful and interesting information, tweeting regularly and finally, writing a great tweet. Occasionally, even, writing the perfect tweet.
Why people read tweets
The first thing to think about is what people want from Twitter? According to a study conducted by Buffer, there are five top things that people want from a Tweet –
- 94% want discounts or promotions
- 88% want free stuff
- 87% want fun and entertainment
- 79% want insider info on upcoming sales
- 79% want access to exclusive content
So, what does this tell you about your tweet? That it needs to offer either something of value in monetary terms, something that people find fun or entertaining or something that makes them feel exclusive and privileged.
Following these concepts do work – for example, 60% of those people Buffer interviewed said they had made a purchase from a small or medium business based on something they had seen on Twitter. A massive 86% said they planned to make a purchase having seen something in a tweet. These people felt they had received or would receive something special due to their Twitter interaction with the company and some 43% said they would make multiple purchases due to a tweet.
How to tweet effectively
There are two key things that make up a good tweet – that it is very readable and that it is re-tweetable. After all, the point of a tweet is to connect with people and have them spread your word because they are impressed with you. Retweets are the lifeblood of the website in the way that shares are on Facebook and re-pins are on Pinterest.
This means that when you start writing that tweet, you should be thinking like a reader, not a writer. For example:
- Don’t assume people know what you are talking about
- Don’t be vague
- Don’t use industry specific jargon unless your audience is exclusively in your industry
- Don’t try for clever wordplay that no-one understands
Humour is good, as long as people can get it. If you are controversial, have strong opinions or a particular approach on your blog, then don’t be afraid to use this in your tweets. Some people are going to unfollow you but that cool because you aren’t really tweeting to them anyway.
Special words for the perfect tweet
Just like headline writing, there are special words you can include to tweet effectively and work towards that perfect tweet. Hubspot conducted a research of the words and phrases most likely to be retweeted and found that simple phrases had the best effect – things like ‘this is’, ‘how to’ ‘the most’ and ‘what happened’.
Likewise, three-word phrases that prompt interest, create a sense of anticipation or purpose also seem to do well. A phrase like ‘will make you’ or ‘what happens when’ get a lot of retweets. Of course, you have to factor in bot activity and the whole clickbait business but still shows that tweets offering something to the reader can do well.
In summary, use action words with more verbs and fewer nouns to have a better chance of generating interest and gaining those retweets. And if you have the word ‘click’ in your tweet, there’s a 35% better chance that it will get engagement, according to Simply Measured’s research. But it should be done in a non-salesy way so something like ‘click here to buy my book!’ isn’t going to have the impact that ‘click to read more’ might have.
The days of a tweet being just about the words are long gone and there are plenty of studies to show that tweets containing links and images do significantly better than those with just words on them. In fact, tweets with images see around 18% more clicks, 89% more favourites and 150% more retweets than those without images.
The length of a tweet can also impact the performance. The medium length tweets between 71-100 characters are the most popular while those under 40 characters get the least attention. So, by the time you add your link, taking up 21 characters regardless of size, you have almost filled your capacity.
Lastly, there’s the matter of hashtags. Twitter was the birthplace of hashtags and while they remain essential to the website, don’t go as crazy as many people do on Instagram with them. The just right amount seems to be two – you can see twice as much engagement with two hashtags versus just 17% more engagement when you include more than two.
Proofreading your tweets
As a blogger, there’s something you should always pay attention to – proofreading what you create. It’s my biggest failing and why I use two pieces of software to catch mistakes (and still miss some). But when the writing in question is a tweet, poor grammar, punctuation or spelling stand out a mile. And while few people have ever been put off by good, well-written content with normal punctuation involved, plenty have been put off by the opposite. So, remember to:
- Use a capital letter at the start of the tweet
- Use a capital letter at the start of each sentence
- Check commonly misspelt words like your and you’re, its and it’s
- Don’t use all capitals as this is considered shouting
- Don’t use text speak
Emoji use seems very popular at the moment but try to use them to accent your message rather than to create some emoji-speak message. Unless you are writing to teenagers in which case, go for it.
Summing it up
Learning to write the perfect tweet is something I’m practising myself. I don’t spend hours agonising over every 140-character output but I do try little different things and watch to see if I get a better (or worse) reaction to them. Of course, there are issues such as the time and day of tweets but that’s a story for another day. In the meantime, go forth and practise tweeting – let me know how you get on?
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