Note: Sara, a former military analyst, is our intern this semester at My Web Writers. She’s working on posts for this blog, while handling our Facebook, Twitter, G+, Pinterest, and Tumblr interactions. If you’re looking for a social media manager, you’ll have to fight me for her in May. The following post is Sara’s first for My Web Writers. ~Jean
Twitter is similar to a 140 character or less Op-Ed. You want what you write to be interesting as well as timely. You also want to engage your followers, and you don’t necessarily achieve that level of engagement by screaming out at passers-by, “Listen to me!” You certainly don’t want to be that figurative person on the corner up on a soapbox, yelling frantically about the end times, in the Twitter-sphere.
Luckily, the resources out there for writing successfully on Twitter go beyond Strunk and White and into real empirical data and analytics.
1. First and foremost, be sure to write within your genre. This is also called “finding your voice,” as well as utilizing successful branding techniques. Michael Brenner, with Forbes, writes that it’s “important to define your goals for being on Twitter and then to find your voice in support of that.” Trying to write about anything and everything will find you with followers who are simply spammers, because the actual accounts will select “unfollow” once they start seeing your content go all over the place.
2. Write on the weekends. Buddy Media reports that Twitter engagements rates are up by 17% on Saturday and Sunday, yet only 19% of brands publish on the weekends.
3. Tweet timely: The same report from Buddy Media found that tweets between 8am and 7pm received 30% higher engagement rates than those posted “after hours.” Conversely, Facebook posts published in those “non-busy” hours got 17% more engagement.
4. There is a “sweet tweet” spot, as far as numbers of Tweets go. Keep your tweeting to an average of 4 posts per day for optimum levels of engagement.
5. Those four tweets? Keep them less than 100 characters if you’re interested in retweets, and between 100 and 120 if you’re interested in clicks, or upping your CTR. The logic behind this makes sense: When Twitter users want to retweet things, they often want to be able to include their own reaction, insight, or opinion. If you take up all 140 allowable characters with your content, this prohibits potential retweeters from contributing to the conversation when they retweet, and this discourages them from retweeting. Short tweets also received an increase of 17% in engagement rate.
6. Be sure to put links in your tweets if you would like them to become retweets. Tweets with links get a retweet rate that is 86% higher than those Tweets without links.
7. What you say and how you say it (politeness!) matters, too: If you ask your followers to “RT”, the average engagement rate is 12X higher. Furthermore, the engagement rate is 23 times more if you actually spell out the word “retweet,” in your post.
For a great visual, check out this great infographic from Fuseworks on how to Maximize Your Tweets.
8. Finally, don’t be afraid to sound intelligent. While it is easy to give in to the temptation to speak to a “global” audience and inadvertently (or quite purposely) “dumb down” your tweets, you should really avoid this. Research done by Dan Zarrella demonstrates the following points:
9. Novelty is important in retweets. What that means is, most retweets don’t contain average, ordinary, everyday language and facts. Remember, retweets are more complex than ordinary tweets.
10. Give your followers news (this ties to novelty). Make sure you include links. Normal tweets, that are not retweeted, have an occurrence of 18.96% links. Retweets, however, have an occurrence of 56.6% links.
Ultimately, though, whether you are writing for Twitter or writing your own blog, novel, short story, or even a product description, there are no set of rules, tips, advice, etcetera, that is going to take the place of simple editing and proofreading. Type out your tweet and then read it again, be sure you don’t have any comma splices or have used the wrong “you’re,” or “your.” Be sure that you need every word you use, and while timeliness is important in the Twitter-sphere, so is your brand’s reputation. ~Sara