Twitter recently made claims that they had reached 100 million users. A fairly impressive feat to be sure, and that is reflected in the pull people give to twitter as a social media outlet. Great tweets can make you a star as fast bad ones can kill your image.
Most of the time tweets just pass through the world, generally ignored, floating on into oblivion. With over 200 million tweets a day it’s easy to get flooded and have your tweets sink out of sight. It’s even easier to fall into bad habits like self-promoting too much without engaging or talking to others, appearing like you’re just there to sell, sell, sell. Spend some time following one and you will find that nothing is more boring than a spammer, which is what you can quickly turn into if what you post isn’t interesting.
When you’ve only got 140 characters to work with it becomes easy to boil down what matters. It’s not proper paragraph structure or worrying about run on sentences here, in fact WHAT you say doesn’t matter as much as HOW you say it. So we worry about the most basic things we can worry about, getting people interested enough to read what’s in your links or just stop and think about what you’ve said for a few seconds. Let’s call that The Readification Factor. Second thing we’re going to worry about is how likely people are to retweet what you’re saying, because let’s face it; you don’t have 100 million twitter followers, so you could use the publicity here. We’ll call that one The Will-They-Retweet-It Factor.
Make sure not to focus on one over the other, as you’re going to need both to make your $40 million dollar tweet a reality. So now let’s go through the steps that are going to lead you to engineer this awe inspiring, powerful bit of awesomeness.
1. Know Your Audience
This should be easy to do. You know your business and you know who you are targeting. First of all do a double take and make sure that the people you are targeting and the people who are following you are one and the same. Now as you write your tweet keep those people in mind, write to their likes and in the language they associate with. For example, the followers of your denture cream review blog might not get the hilarious reference to the latest epic internet memes. Take the time to write for your audience, don’t just spit something out and assume that everyone will just “get it”.
2. Don’t Become a Spammy-McSpammer-with-Nothing-to-Say
Have you ever followed someone on twitter who posted way too much? They spam your feed with meaningless tweets and links. They use hashtags and @ mentions until you see them in your dreams. That is annoying, and it is a quick way to get you removed by a lot of followers. Now look at your feed. Who are you drawn to? Who is memorable? Think about why.
People with interesting and useful things to say are remembered and people will add them to lists so they can keep up with what is happening with those people. Most people follow a new person and have a period of time where they form an opinion of them based on how they act. Sharing value when it’s appropriate, having good insight and generally being a good source of entertainment or information will build up to the point where we associate that person with excellence. Oh, and make sure you have a distinct profile picture too. People are going to remember you by your name and your picture.
So now that you’ve built a good reputation, keep it up and you will continue to grow a following of people who actually want to hear what you have to say. So don’t mess it up, keep all your tweets to a high standard. Excellent!
3. People Only Read the Headline
Look around a bit next time you’re out and about and find a newspaper. Yes, I’m sure they still make those. Newspapers are in the business of headlines. They’re big, they’re flashy and they draw you in to all the tiny words below. Now consider twitter. 140 characters. That doesn’t leave a lot of room to talk about just why your link is so great and everyone should read it. You’ve got to “WOW!” them with the headline, so let’s think about that now.
You want to draw people in like with the newspaper, so you’re going to need to make that headline sound interesting enough that people are going to want to buy your “newspaper” based on that alone. If you saw a headline that said, “Hey buy this paper because its really good and I want to make lots of money off of you”, would that be incentive for you to take action? Yes, maybe if that action was to walk on past with a look of revulsion across your face. People aren’t on twitter looking to be sold to, so let’s not do that. Oh and let’s be clear about what we’re promoting here. It’s not the link that you want to sell; it’s what’s in the link, the content, which matters, so make sure that’s what you’re promoting.
4. Learn to Spell… and Punctuate!!!!
This may be the most important tip you can get for posting anything on the internet, anywhere. Poor spelling, grammar and punctuation are the three fastest ways to get dismissed, flamed or hated on the internet. Even if you’re making good points and adding value many people will ignore that and focus on the spelling or grammar. This rule covers everything you might write anywhere, not just on twitter or even the internet. Here are some quick tips to avoid this misfortune.
Use commas and periods. Use exclamation points if necessary, not all the time. Question marks go after questions, you know?
DON’T SHOUT! Capitals go at the start of a sentence and in proper nouns. Unless you really are shouting don’t use all caps.
Do not invent some weird form of text talk or copy someone else’s. Have you ever read a book? Pretend you are writing in a book. You would not see someone write a book with every other letter capitalized, weird short forms of words or extra letters added for no reason. Don’t do it, it is not cool, it is not hip, it is simply bad.
Hyphenate correctly, some words or thoughts need hyphens. Remember your apostrophes. Also, forget your apostrophes if they’re going in the wrong place. Please know your they’re, their, there. Pleeeeeeeease.
Take some time to proof-read your tweets. Don’t tell me it takes too long; we both know how long it is, it can’t take you too much time. Heck, go ahead and run it through a spellchecker if you need to; it can only help you.
Now, if you’re an accomplished linguist and writer then this is second nature and should be easy, though if punctuation and grammar aren’t your forte, take the extra time to learn and research. It will get easier and the payout will be grand indeed.
5. Give People Room for Add-ons in Their Retweets
Leave a little room for retweeters to give you a boost when they pass on your message. “Wow, so insightful thanks!”, or “This just changed my life!” are going to add a lot of credibility to your post when they show up in the streams of people who might not have ever heard of you. Seeing positive remarks from friends or other people they trust will get people clicking and following you.
Leaving those 25-30 characters for someone to add their own message to yours will encourage them to share and also leave your message intact; with all the work you’ve put into writing it you don’t want someone junking your words and filling it in with something poorly written and then having that reflect back on you as a retweet.
On the other hand if you’ve come up with something really superb that doesn’t fit within the limits then go for it. Not everything you write will come out the perfect length to fit this mould and you shouldn’t sacrifice an amazing tweet to make it fit.
You might look at this list and all these rules and think about how twitter is about connecting with people, sharing and having fun. That’s true and you want to do that, but you can do all that while writing excellent, well formed tweets at the same time.
The combination of these two will set you on the path towards excellence. Once you see the impact that comes from having well written headlines and sharing valuable, grammatically sound, well written and properly punctuated content you’ll wonder how you ever settled for anything less than well engineered perfection.
Who are you favorite people to follow on twitter? What do they do that you like? Have you ever followed someone that you found was annoying and ended up unfollowing them? Let me know in the comments.