8 scientifically-proven ways to make your tweets more impactful
Can you tell what makes a good tweet? Take the NY Times quiz.
ICYMI, there was a study published last month about a formula for predicting shareable tweets. There was a NY Times quiz, some articles and posts, and I saw some interest on my Twitter feed. But how many people took the findings and put them to practical use?
I’m a huge supporter of research and science, so I thought this study was pretty cool. Basically, it studied the “wording” of tweets, or which word or combination of words was a predictor for more retweets.
Combined with their findings, and some from my own experience, here are some pointers on making your tweets (and social media program) more impactful. Use this guide to craft your next tweets scientifically and strategically and see if you get better results!
1. Don’t forget the basics. The researchers pointed to a number of existing factors that affect the shareability of a tweet: the author, his or her existing social network (i.e. followers), the timing and the topic. Oprah and Bill Gates will no doubt have more influence than you or the entity you tweet for, so create your own baseline.
2. Understand your audience and tailor to it. Your Twitter followers want to hear from you--that’s why they’re following you! The researchers found that the more relatable and relevant the tweet, the better it will be received. Make sure your content is important to your followers (or potential followers). It comes down to a PR basic: knowing your audience.
3. Ask for help. “RT,” “retweet,” “spread,” and “please” were words that indicated a share-worthy tweet in the study. Meaning, if you ask for help in spreading the word, Twitter users are likely to share. I would expand this to suggest making your 140 characters engaging. Ask a question, and people are likely to answer and help. Ask for comments, and your followers just might voice their opinions. Engagement is key.
4. Use more characters. The study found that longer tweets are more effective. You might be saying, “What??” Here’s the caveat: longer tweets that are more informative are more effective. The tweet needs to convey as much information as possible in coherent text...and has to get people to click on the link!
5. Tweet in headline format. The researchers explained that news headlines on Twitter are attention-grabbing and informative all in 140 characters (kudos to journalists!). Share-worthy tweets follow the same formula. They don’t have to be short; they have to contain enough information to explain a story and get followers to click on the link. Next time you click a link on Twitter, study the tweet. Most likely, it reads like a headline.
6. Choose your words wisely. In PR, words are extremely important. One word can change the sentiment or the meaning of a phrase. The study found that verbs, nouns and numbers are more effective to use in tweets. Also, indefinite articles (“a” or “an”) are preferred. Most blog headlines follow similar word choice rules (did you notice it in this one?).
7. Be consistent. The researchers found that more engaging tweets are consistent with the rules of Twitter use and consistent with followers’ expectations. ICYMI, Twitter lingo will get you more RTs. If your bio lists your interests, but you never tweet about them, you are deceiving your audience. One consistent tool that users enjoy is Twitter chats, like #MuckedUp.
8. Test your tweets! If you created multiple tweets on the same subject, and can’t decided which one to send out, the researchers created a handy tool for you to test them to see which will be retweeted more. Try it out but don’t forget the other rules, like timing, word choice and relevance.
And don’t forget to test your knowledge by taking the NY Times’ Twitter quiz!
Have other tips to make your tweets more impactful? Share them in the comments below!
EDITOR'S NOTE: Want even more Twitter tips? Take some notes from the playbooks of the journalists with the most followers on Twitter.