Twitter has around 271 million monthly active users, and an average of 500 million tweets are sent every day.
That’s a lot of people competing to be heard.
We recently said that if you don’t know how to write headlines, you might as well quit blogging.
Well, the same is true for Twitter.
With 140 characters at your disposal, verbosity is simply not an option. However, neither is being vague. So how do you write tweets that will make people take their finger off infinite scroll and pay attention?
If you want to write better tweets, try the following:
1. Stop Tweeting
First and foremost, you need to understand why your followers use social media. If you can’t work out what they use it for, the greatest tweet in the world will still leave you shouting to a crowd that does not speak your language.
To understand this, you need to stop tweeting and start listening. What are your followers talking about? What are they sharing? Who do they interact with?
If you can answer these questions, you can start creating a content calendar that is designed around what your audience want to hear, instead of what you want to say.
2. Start Interacting
You’ve stopped, you’ve listened, now you need to think: Why are you tweeting?
To make Twitter work for your business, you need to have conversations.
If interaction isn’t a priority, make it one now.
Interaction on Twitter comes in many forms, it could be a retweet, it could be a reply, or it could be a click. The way you write your tweet should reflect the reaction you want to get. If you want people to retweet, you need to share content they want their followers to see. If you want a reply, you need ask a question, or start a debate. If you want people to click on your link, you need to write a great headline.
3. Use The 4 U’s
So, where to begin when crafting Twitter headlines? A well-known copywriting technique, and something I always refer to, is The 4 U’s:
- Is it USEFUL?
- Does it create a sense of URGENCY?
- Is the benefit UNIQUE?
- Is the message ULTRA-SPECIFIC?
Take a look at this tweet:
— Carla Mai Froggatt (@Carla_Mai) May 14, 2015
Firstly, it begins with a specific promise: “3 ways.”
The words “you haven’t thought of” provide both urgency and uniqueness. It infers this is new advice they haven’t read before, which in turn implies they need to know it now.
Finally, it is useful, because ultimately, it’s offering advice.
It is also important to think about attribution. By tagging the article and its author, I have notified the publication that I am sharing their content, whilst setting my readers’ expectations – letting them know where the link will take them.
4. Make Every Character Count
And by this I mean: proofread and format carefully.
If you do nothing else, follow these two simple but essential tips: don’t write tweets with caps lock on, and always check your spelling.
Do you ever get that flinching feeling when someone writes a tweet in capitals? I DO. It makes people feel like you are shouting at them, and people do not like to be shouted at.
Poor spelling and bad grammar is bad for business, so it’s always worth double checking.
5. Be Scientific
There is no such thing as the perfect tweet. Scientists have tried and failed to come up with the elusive formula. However, what Chenhao Tan of Cornell University did discover was that the success of a tweet was largely dependent on an array of external factors – in other words, one size does not fit all.
After comparing 11,404 pairs of tweets – that is, tweets about the same topic, from the same account, but with a different headline – they discovered several themes that contribute to a well-performing tweet:
- Be informative
- Use the same tone as your community
- Imitate headlines
- Keep it simple
And they created this highly addictive game – I mean incredibly helpful tool:
Try it for yourself here: Which tweet will be retweeted more?
Don’t take it too seriously, but it would be interesting to see how well it works for you. Please share your results in the comments.