Thanks to real-time conversations and trend tracking around the globe, Twitter has established itself as a key player in the social space. But one thing that really sets Twitter apart from other social networks is that it’s a powerful amplifier for branded messages.
There are currently 230 million active members generating more than 500 million tweets per day. On average, Twitter users follow six or more brands, and some of the top reasons for doing so include access to discounts, updates on upcoming sales, and exclusive content. What does this mean for you? Well for starters, it tells you that your customers are ready to hear from you.
But as with any marketing campaign, it’s not enough to simply publish content and hope that it spreads. You need to know when to tweet, what to tweet, and how often. Here are some tried and true tactics that you can apply to your Twitter strategy to optimize your tweets for visibility and increase retweets.
Optimize Your Content With Formatting
Hashtags are a popular way to identify themes or topics within a tweet. But while hashtag use can generate engagement, it’s really easy to overuse them. Tweets with one to two hashtags have a 21 percent higher engagement rate than those with three or more. In fact, your engagement can actually drop when you use more than two hashtags. For that reason, it’s recommended that you limit hashtag use to only one or two per tweet.
Also, keep in mind that tweets perform better when they’re kept short. You’re already limited to only 140 characters, but tweets actually receive more engagement when you use even less. A study by Track Social found that keeping your tweet around 100 characters is ideal for increased engagement. Of course, there’s no guarantee that every tweet below 100 characters will go viral, but brevity is always appreciated. Plus, it gives your followers extra room to add their thoughts before retweeting.
If you use Twitter to drive traffic back to your blog, here’s an interesting statistic for you regarding headlines: 64 percent of people prefer the first letter of every word in the headline to be capitalized. This particular formatting could help your content to stand out, signifying that it’s something your followers want to read and share.
Entice Followers With Irresistible Links
In addition to sparking engagement on-site, Twitter also drives a lot of traffic elsewhere on the web. Links account for a lot of user interaction on tweets. This is important because it amplifies your message beyond just your followers, allowing you to reach fans’ networks. Tweets containing links receive higher retweet rates than those without links. But make sure that the links you’re inserting into your tweets are clickable.
Forcing followers to copy and paste URLs into the browser — or worse, tweeting a broken link — are surefire ways to kill engagement. You’ll also want to pay close attention to how links appear within your tweets. Copying and pasting a lengthy URL not only eats up valuable characters, but it also makes the tweet look cluttered. Make your links more Twitter-friendly by using a URL shortener — Twitter offers one of its own, but there are several options that you can choose from.
Additionally, consider the message that accompanies the link within your tweet. According to Twitter, tweets that include quotes and numbers receive 19 and 17 percent more retweets, respectively. Comb through the content you’re linking to and select a compelling phrase or data statistic to include in your tweet.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for What You Want
There’s a range of reasons why people follow brands on social media, but the biggest is also the simplest: because they like you. Loyal fans will share relevant and interesting content you post with their networks without prompt. That said, if there’s a specific tweet you want to amplify, sometimes the best thing to do is ask for help. Providing followers with a clear, compelling reason to retweet your message is the most effective way to turn followers into advocates.
In a 2013 study, Twitter found that Promoted Tweets in timelines with an ask to retweet increased retweets by an average of 311 percent. An ask to retweet in Promoted Tweets in search increase retweets on average by 317 percent. The company also noted that the best performing Promoted Tweets were twice as likely to spell out the word “retweet” instead of using the abbreviated version, “RT.” The best performing tweets also added the call to retweet at the beginning of the tweet instead of at the end.
As a general rule of thumb, action words make for stronger, more compelling content regardless of whether you’re tweeting, creating an ad, or drafting a blog headline. So if you want something from your followers, be direct and ask for it.
When it comes to Twitter, messaging is critical. A well-crafted tweet can make or break a sale, and sometimes words alone aren’t enough to capture the attention of today’s overly-stimulated consumers. Adding a hashtag, compelling link, or even an image to a tweet makes it richer which undoubtedly has an impact on reach. Keep these tips and others in mind as you evaluate your Twitter strategy moving forward, but don’t preoccupy yourself with optimization tactics so much that it takes away from what’s really important: connecting with your customers.
Jennifer Beese: Jennifer Beese has worked as a community manager and social media strategist. When she’s not writing, you can find her studying anatomy and physiology—she literally has a skeleton in her closet—or under the stars with her telescope.