HOW TO Create Twitter Bait

5 Tips for Getting Re-tweeted

Twitter Bait is the Twitter equivalent of link bait. It’s content published on Twitter that’s so appealing that followers can’t wait to re-tweet it. The stronger, more engaging the content, the more widely it’ll be distributed. Using Twitter bait to build your influence, when done effectively, can also drive traffic to your blog, website, video and other Internet properties.

Twitter bait placement isn’t limited to Twitter. In fact, it can be incorporated into a broad array of online and offline communications that provide source content for Twitter. It can be integrated into your online content such as blogs, photographs, videos, slideshares and e-books as well as more established websites and emailings. For these formats, the title is often the hook that draws followers in. [Here are ten suggestions inspired by the National Enquirer.] Offline, Twitter bait is most often used in presentations and talks where speakers, either planned or spontaneously, say something that the audience finds enlightening or different.

Twitter bait mechanics

To maximize the impact of your Twitter bait it’s important to keep the length short enough so there’s room for the re-tweeter’s handle and a short comment. Here are five techniques to help you construct your tweet content.

  1. Use considerably less than 140 characters. Ideally, the shorter the better, since it leaves more room for re-tweeters.
  2. Abbreviate terms where appropriate. [Check here for detailed Twitter translations.]
  3. Use URL shorteners. Compress the number of letters used wherever possible. Especially if you’re trying to drive traffic to your blog where post URL can get quite long.
  4. Leave room for the Twitter handle of the writer, speaker, source and/or other shout out and publicize the Twitter handle so your audience doesn’t have to search for it. Remember including someone’s Twitter handle will bring the tweet to their notice and can help to get it re-tweeted.
  5. Include relevant hashtags for the event, search terms and/or interested groups. For example, #socialmedia and #blogchat. Where words from the hashtag (#) are part of your tweet, add the hashtag to reduce the number of letters.

5 Twitter bait tactics

As a marketer, your goal is to consider how to craft your hook to lure active, influential Twitter users to share your content. Here are five recommendations to help you develop more effective tweet bait.

  1. Play on words. These verbal tidbits should tickle the followers’ minds. For example, @ChrisBrogan’s “Listening is the new black.”
  2. Connect ideas to well known concepts. Make a new twist on an established saying or idea. For example, here’s one of my tweets from the Monitoring Social Media conference (#MSM10): “If a status update reaches a social network, but no one reacts, does it exist?” This is a play on the phrase: If a tree falls in the forest but no one hears it.” Another example from the DMA Annual is @BrianSolis’ comment “Context is king.”
  3. Have a good hook. Just like gossip magazines headlines, you want to whet followers’ appetite to read more and share the content. The unexpected works well for this. For example, the column title: What Obama Can Learn From Sarah Palin does this by connecting two unlikely people in an unexpected way.
  4. Pass the data please. Numbers are always juicy. It’s helpful if they’re from a reliable source, like Forrester, Nielsen or comScore. Also, it’s good if the information is hot off the presses and/or unexpected.
  5. Create resource lists. Develop lists of information that prospective readers will find useful for themselves and their colleagues. Twitter’s allure is that it makes you look smart to those following you. Among the options are catalogs of information, how to instructions, best of selections and targeted free e-books.

Creating strong Twitter bait takes planning and practice. You may need to test different ways of phrasing titles and slides in your presentations to see what resonates with your audience. To this end, it’s a good idea to monitor what’s happening to content that you’ve tweeted and presented.

If you have any other suggestions, would you please add them to the comments section below to add to the collective knowledge.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

For additional information on Twitter, here are some related posts.

Photo credit: Mattieb via Flickr

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7 Responses to HOW TO Create Twitter Bait

  1. Dave MacKay says:

    I had never thought of requesting retweet until I saw this post….. what an amazing idea., keeping post short is a super idea… Thanks for these.

  2. Ross Hall says:

    There’s also asking!

    When a “Please RT” comes through on a request (such as asking for volunteers for a survey) I’ve found it more likely to get passed round.

  3. Meg Steele says:

    Great suggestions, especially re: keeping tweets short so there is room for multiple retweets. I also find: I read more posts that are posed as questions… Like, ‘What is your new black?’ maybe I feel invited to join the conversation? Also, I don’t retweet posts that are hard to get to or navigate around, like lists where each item is on a different page, or I have to jump thru a bunch of security hoops to comment. Last, I do retweet and email to myself for further reference and future comment, posts which are a rich resource, like ‘the 50 best blogs by corporate recruiting leaders’.
    Good work!

  4. Heidi, you make a cool points in this article about to get people to retweet etc. One of the things that I notice recently being a speaker at a conference was that I needed to make slogans and catch phrases so that they are able to fit into 140 characters so that people could tweet them out with a hash tag etc. Cool article.

    • Heidi Cohen says:

      Sam–Thank you for giving a speaker’s perspective. Incorporating Twitter bait into your talks, panels, and other forms of public meetings are a great way to extend the reach of your presentation. The more tweetable your phrases, the wider your reach. If done well, you can engage people who aren’t at your presentation. Hope that you return and add to the conversation here. Happy Marketing, Heidi Cohen

  5. Great article on creating Twitter bait. I like the analogy to link bait as SEO is a big topic for those who are yearning for online visibility. By making sure your tweets follow all of these guidelines, it is safe to say that your tweets are well optimized!
    –Stacey Acevero @PRWeb

    • Heidi Cohen says:

      Stacey–You’re correct I got the idea for Twitter link bait from SEO link bait. Unlike SEO link bait, Twitter link bait can broaden your marketing in real time. It’s especially useful for live events. Please stop by again. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen