Twitter is one tool in an author’s bag that can, if used effectively, be utilised to assist in the building of your author platform, which you hope ultimately will result in book sales, plus it’s a great way to make a connection with influencers or to speak to your readers. But a question that was raised in my mind, was:
How do I compose an effective Tweet?
I recently wrote a guest post for Nicholas Rossis’ blog titled What is the best time to Tweet. Choosing the right time to Tweet is definitely an element of what goes into an effective Tweet. Check out that post (when you’ve finished this one!) for guidance.
But for a Tweet to be effective, it involves a lot more than just publishing at the right time, so read on for the anatomy of an effective Tweet.
According to Twitter, there are 500 million Tweets sent everyday (most by my daughter). What do your potential audience want to hear about in your Tweets? Research shows that link clicks make up 92% of all interactions, and users follow a median of 6 brands, looking for the following things:
So you know there are people out there looking for what you have to offer!
How do you grab their attention?
First, I’m sure you are all very appropriate when Tweeting, but just in case you wondered, here is some Twitter etiquette:
- Be courteous.
- Reply to @mentions in real-time, if at all possible.
- Be social (who thought being social on a social network was the way to go?).
- Say “thank you”. If you are given some helpful advice, use a helpful link, or even if someone follows you (in my experience, avoid any auto-replies. A quick ‘Thanks for following, [First name] works great). Use the @reply function.
- Don’t just follow people;engage
- Have a sense of humor (not a rule, more of a useful tip).
- Don’t follow someone just because you want him or her to follow you back. However, if someone follows you, it is good form to follow back (weird, right?).
- Don’t hassle influential people for recognition / retweet / whatever.
- Don’t get carried away and post 300 Tweets per hour. Try to stick to 10-20 per day (under 10 is even better). Use Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule posts.
- Show interest in others, before asking them to care about you (or what you do).
- Ask questions.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for a retweet (see later for some interesting facts about RTs) when it’s really important.
- Tell the truth (did I need that one?).
- Promoteother people’s stuff (blog posts, photos, websites, etc.) You can do this manually, or use a service such as Roundteam which lets you set hash tags and people to look out for and will RT them for you.
- Talk about other people more than you do about yourself. A good rule of thumb is the 20:1 ratio. Don’t you just hate it when all you see is ‘Buy this!’ or ‘Read my book!’ I find this particularly annoying (and presumptuous) when you get an auto-Tweet from someone, suggesting you may want to purchase their book.
Tweeting Like A Pro
The first consideration should be the length of your Tweet. Twitter offers you 140 characters, but that doesn’t mean you have to use them all, in fact research carried out by Track Social calculated that the best length for a Tweet is around 100 characters. Here is what they discovered:
Twitter itself goes further, by saying even shorter Tweets are more effective. Tweets with fewer than 50 characters generates 56% more engagement than Tweets with 50-100 characters.
Interesting Fact no. 1
The average length of a viral Tweet is 62 characters
Source – Buffer
Deliver Your Message
Whatever your message, think about how you write it. Twitter was designed to be conversational in nature, so try to impart a human tone to your content. People want to interact with a person, not a marketing machine!
- Try to avoid being overly formal (but still remember the etiquette points above).
- Avoid JARGON where possible.
- Talk WITH people, as opposed to AT people.
- Try to address both positive and negative comments, and wherever possible do it ASAP (Jargon for As Soon As Possible!).
There is so much data available on the Internet regarding words and phrases that are most likely to win you engagement. One such piece of research looked at the findings on four sites that focus specifically on viral content. Below is a list of what they discovered.
There are a lot of superlatives in there: ‘Blow your mind’, ‘The best’
I have used this technique in the past to increase clicks on some of my tweets. Take this example: I’m not sure what’s good for others, but I would average 1-4 clicks per Tweet, but with the addition of the word Massive the results were:
Putting this into practise
Try phrasing your Tweets as questions.
- Ask ‘Why…’ questions, for example:
- ‘Why it is important to always…’
- ‘Why you should never…’
- ‘What is the one thing…’
Asking questions offers an answer or an explanation, and fills something called ‘The Curiosity Gap’, a term coined by a Carneige Melon University Professor, and it describes the gap between what we know and what we would like to know.
The content should be enough to pique your interest, but not enough to give the whole story away – Upworthy Co-Founder, Peter Koechley.
Looking back at the list of phrases above, there are several that make promises or imbue you with a level of authority. For example:
- ‘This is the…’ gives you a level of authority, as you are about to impart a pearl of wisdom. Of course, this also plays to the argumentative side of people who may want to debate your findings.
- ‘Here are the…’ Here’s where you’re going to find the answer to your question…
- ‘This is what…’ Again, you are about to answer someone’s burning question.
Explain a process or teach something using these types of Tweets:
- ‘How to…’
- ‘Beginner’s guide to…’
Offer a quick fix:
- ‘Introduction to…’
- ‘…in just five minutes!’
Talk to your audience
- ‘You must…’
- ‘…can help your…’
- ‘…and you will see…’
- ‘…guaranteed to make you…’
Interesting Fact no. 2
Tweets that ask for a Retweet receive 12x the Retweet rate than those that don’t.
If you actually use the whole word (Retweet instead of RT), the increase is 23x
Source – Salesforce Marketing
Use a #hashtag with your post to help readers find your Tweet based on its topic.
Only 24% of Tweets use hashtags, even though, using them will double your engagement, but don’t get carried away as Tweets using 3 or more hashtags receive a 14% drop in engagement.
One tool that you may find helpful is Hashtagify
Its purpose in life is to accelerate market growth and marketing effectiveness by analysing and identifying the most popular hashtags for your line of work. Visit Hashtagify and type in the term that you wish to search for, and you will be presented with the ten most popular hashtags related to that search. You can narrow your search further by clicking any one of the ten suggestions, and so on.
It looks like this:
Make them short and recognisable by your followers.
If you’re using an existing hashtag, be sure to add value.
Interesting Fact no. 3
Tweets that include a link receive 86% more Retweets.
Source – Salesforce Marketing
We often say ‘A picture paints a thousand words.’ But does it? Yes it does.
- Twitter’s recent policy on not including images in the overall character count means you have no excuse for not using images in your Tweets.
- Tweets which include images receive an 18% boost in clicks. [Source: Twitter]
But, they give an 89% boost in ‘favourites’ and a huge 150% boost in Retweets.
When choosing an image, there are several points to consider:
- Try to avoid stock images, unless you can alter them in some way.
- Try to give the image some context in the body of the Tweet
- Avoid making every post an image post. Give people some variety!
- Be aware of using images that you don’t own (do I need to say that?).
Interesting Fact no. 4
Simple or slang conversation is not Retweetable.
Some of the least Retweetable words:
Haha, lol, watching, bored, listening, work, home, bed, tired
Source – Danzarella
Letting people know that your link contains video is a useful tactic. If you can use it naturally in your Tweet, do so. If you can’t fit it in organically, then you should mention it at the end of the Tweet in brackets [like this].
You can experience similar results using [Infographics], [Lab], [worksheet] and .
Anatomy of a great response Tweet
- Start with your offer.
- The Tweet should contain no hashtags, no @mentions or rich media (streaming video, ads that change, etc)
- Create a sense of urgency. This could be putting a timescale on something, or it could be mentioning that there are only a limited number of a certain product.
- A call to action that explains the click expectation.
Interesting Fact no. 5
If you’re sharing blog posts, studies show that 65% of people prefer title case (the first letter in each word is capitalised) over all lower case or ALL CAPS.
Come up with a Tweet-schedule
Twitter suggests Tweeting around a schedule, for example:
- Monday: Tweet coupon codes or active book deals
- Tuesday: Tweet about how you write your books – a ‘behind the scene look’
- Wednesday: Tweet tips that you have found useful for other authors
- Thursday: Reviews of your books
- Friday: A glimpse of your writing day. Perhaps a video or two
- Buffer.com – Tweet scheduler. Also easy to read stats for your Tweets to see how effective you are. Also schedule Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and others.
- Hootsuite.com – All your Twitter feeds, scheduled posts, retweets, likes and scheduled posts in one place.
- Best Practise – Tips and resources
How do you find Twitter? Useful or more effort than its’s worth? Do you use any techniques to send effective Tweets?