Twitter: Make Every Tweet Count [Research]

10 Tips to Get More Bang for Your Tweet

Do you ever wonder if anyone’s listening to you on Twitter?

If so, you’ll want to read the latest research from Carnegie Mellon University, MIT and Georgia Tech. It shows your feelings are correct about a quarter of the time. But before you start worrying, know that slightly more than one in three of your tweets is worth reading. 

Want more bang for your 140 characters? Then follow these ten rules based on this research to make your tweets break through the Twittersphere’s noise to get read. (Of course, it helps to practice good Twitter etiquette.)

  1. Be a social media librarian. Inspire your followers by sourcing new, useful information. Roughly half of the study’s participants used Twitter to gather practical information. These tweets involved information sharing, links to information the individual created and/or questions for followers. (Hat tip to Margie Clayman, a real life librarian incognito as a Mad Man.)
  2. Perform standup comedy on Twitter. Share your snarky wit on Twitter. The subtext is have fun and brighten other people’s day. Based on the research, one in four participants appreciates humor on Twitter. Understand humor can be difficult to pull off since not everyone is a Jon Stewart.
  3. Take the miniskirt approach to tweeting. Tweets should be long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to be interesting. Remember your tweets aren’t cryptic crossword cues. Participants need sufficient context to grasp your point. Don’t just tweet a URL or eliminate so much content from your tweet your target audience doesn’t understand it. This means enhance links to articles and photos by adding information that gives readers insights.
  4. Lure readers into your tweets. Use a strong headline to titillate your audience to click through to your content. (Here’s some help creating Twitter bait.) If your tweet is complete on its own, readers are unlikely to click on your link to discover more information.
  5. Contribute to the conversation. Twitter is a multi-directional communication platform. Participants can communicate one-to-one, one-to-many and many-to-many. Don’t just retweet messages. Add your comments or point of view concisely. Also leave room for others to comment on your tweets!
  6. Skip yesterday’s news. Twitter is a real time communications platform where participants seek the latest news. It’s where news breaks. Think Arab Spring and Japanese Tsunami. As a result, news can get stale faster than other media. Therefore, be careful when sharing news items versus other types of information and communication.
  7. Resist the urge to whine and bellyache about your situation. Face it—no one wants to hear other people’s complaints. No one wants to listen to a downer. If you’re having a bad day, close Twitter, get off your computer and get out. You don’t want the negative feelings to bypass your brain and go straight to your fingertips. Take a walk, get a coffee, or get the rant out on a piece of paper. Just don’t share it with your Twitter followers!
  8. Eliminate the Twitter clutter. Adding too many Twitter handles or hashtags to your tweet obfuscates your message. Remember you’ve only got 140 characters with which to work. Leave room for your core communication. Don’t just automatically retweet. Make sure the retweet will make sense to your followers. When retweeting consider using different hashtags to broaden the message’s reach.
  9. Omit the personal minutia from Twitter. No one wants to know the intimate details of your life, tweeted moment by moment even if you’re a star. Face it, even your mother only wants to know enough about your life so that she can brag to her friends. The only exception is when you’re at a conference or some other gathering and want to get together with people there.
  10. Keep personal messages personal. Don’t mention someone’s Twitter handle to deliver a one-to-one message. It feels like spam to the recipient and their followers! Instead, use a direct message (or DM for short) to communicate. Of course, this can be a Catch22 if the person you’d like to contact doesn’t follow you. In that case, try another channel such as email. Even worse, don’t call someone out for not responding to another form of communication publicly. In addition to being rude, you’ve no idea what their priorities are.

We all intuitively know a good tweet from a bad one. This research quantifies what’s generally works best on Twitter to ensure that more of your tweets are read and shared. Remember, providing useful information, using good manners and having a sense of humor will get people to pay more attention to your Twitter communications.

What other recommendations do you have for increasing the impact of your tweets?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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  • http://enjoythefresh.com/ Vincent Grimaud

    Great article. Thanks for sharing these tips with us.

  • http://www.theexpertnetworks.com/ Troy Breiland

    Nice article, Heidi. Your observation that twitter is a communication tool rather than a broadcast tool is key.

  • http://www.margieclayman.com Margie Clayman

    Hi Heidi,

    Sorry to be a day late – for some reason ping-backs don’t often show up on my site. I really appreciate you giving me a shout out in a context that makes me proud. Curation has become another “buzz word” but I think there is a lot more to it than just retweeting or finding a couple of people who tweet neat things. Thank you very much for this wonderful compliment :)

    • http://riversidemarketingstrategies.com/ Heidi Cohen

      Margie–In the social media space, not many of us are true librarians as well as participants, the way you are. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • http://tweet4ok.com Frithjof

    Great list of tips!
    I have a different opinion about your last point though. Personal connections make Social Networking so valuable and hiding those networking chats between all those SPAM DMs is a waste! Many of my twitter contacts don’t even look at DMs anymore because of the flood of “like me on Facebook….” messages.
    I love the open chatter and have learned a tremendous amount from it.