Twitter is a powerful platform in today’s online social community. Professionals use Twitter to share quick updates and connect individually with followers and personal users tweet to have a voice. But what if you’re not an expert at Twitter, like me? Though I’ve had an account for a few years, I’ve yet to reach double digits in my number of tweets. Mostly, I use Twitter to keep up with current events and find articles from sites I find interesting, like Cosmopolitan and National Geographic. However, as I’ve started to use Twitter more for this course and for my job as a Social Media Ambassador with Pitt’s Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, I’m interested in learning how to become an expert tweeter. How do you maximize the 140 character limit? How do you make your tweets favorite-worthy or retweet-able? What makes a tweet stand out among the endless scroll of Twitter? Here’s what I found.
First up: how do you utilize the 140 character tweet limit? You DON’T use all of the characters. According to a Q & A conducted by readwrite, the most readable tweets are short and sweet, adding up to about 100 to 120 characters. Tweets that are maxed out often get skimmed over when users are scrolling through their feeds because they’re too tiring to read amongst the thousands of others. Also, by not using the maximum characters, others can add a few words of their own when retweeting.
Next, how do you make your tweets favorite-worthy or retweet-able, thus upping your chances of more people reading them? The same article by readwrite suggests three things to include in every tweet: (1) an @ mention, (2) a hashtag, and (3) a link. The first two of these elements automatically connect you to a broader audience – that of the person you mention and those who are searching for or following the hashtag. This increases the chance that someone who isn’t your follower will read your tweet. Furthermore, the last element (a link) makes your tweet useful by giving the reader something to do. Where in the tweet you put the link can make a difference too. It was found that putting your link at the one quarter mark of your text increases its click-through rate. Here’s an example of a bad vs. a good tweet:
(Photo Credit: RSA Technologies.in, BinaryNote – see sources)
In the same realm of links, tweets with photos are much more noticeable than those without and consequently more likely to be favorited or retweeted. I mentioned before that one reason I use Twitter, despite my lack of tweeting, is to find interesting articles. The site whose tweets I read most often is Cosmopolitan. Looking at the magazine’s profile, it is a prime example of a Twitter expert. Yes, it’s one the most successful magazines worldwide, but by sticking to the basic elements I listed above, Cosmo makes its tweets sticky. The magazine almost exclusively includes a photo in every tweet and always includes a link or an @ mention too. Furthermore, Cosmo makes a point to retweet not only other businesses and celebrities but its readers as well. Check out the photo below of Cosmopolitan’s Twitter feed or click here to view its profile: https://twitter.com/Cosmopolitan.
(Photo Credit: screenshot)
Quick aside about @ mentions: starting a tweet with @username is a reply, but placing @username anywhere else in a tweet is a mention. Your followers will not see a tweet when you start it with @username, unless they go to that user’s profile. A common trick is to put a period before the @ mention (i.e. “.@username”), so that user and all of your followers see it on their feed.
Lastly, I found a few other tricks to optimize your Twitter and bring you closer to being Twitterrific. First of which, know when to tweet. There are varying perspectives on when exactly is the best time to tweet, and it certainly depends on the audience you are trying to reach. However, in general sources say that tweeting in the early afternoon (around 3pm) generates the most response whether from favoriting, retweeting, or clicking through. In addition, we talked about Google Analytics in our Q & A session with professionals who use social media in their work. Much like Google Analytics, Twitter offers a free look at the analytics of your tweets from the past month. Check it out here: https://analytics.twitter.com/. You can even click on individual tweets and see specific details about that tweet’s analytics. See the image below:
(Photo Credit: SocialTimes – see sources)
There are tons of easy tricks to make your tweets more favorite-worthy and retweet-able. It just takes a little time and planning to become Twitterrific.
Bennett, Shea. “10 Secret #Twitter Tips, Tricks and Hacks (That You Probably Don’t Know).” SocialTimes. Adweek Network, 13 Oct. 2013. Web. 10 Feb. 2015. <http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/secret-twitter-tips-hacks-tricks/502273>.
Copeland, Dave. “How To Write Readable – And Retweetable – Tweets.” Readwrite. Wearable World Inc., 09 Mar. 2012. Web. 10 Feb. 2015. <http://readwrite.com/2012/03/08/how_to_write_readable_-_and_retweetable_-_tweets>.
Rakesh. “Problogger Guide to Increase Twitter Followers.” BinaryNote. N.p., 09 Feb. 2015. Web. 10 Feb. 2015. <http://www.binarynote.com/problogger-guide-to-increase-twitter-followers.html>.