The Anatomy Of A Tweet: Six Tips To Getting Twitter Right

Sep 4, 2012

If you’re active on Twitter, you’ve probably taken the time to research and follow influential individuals and dedicate part of your day to tweeting and other social media participation. And, if you’ve done all this, then you know the harsh reality: Given the virtual fire hose of information flooding the social media landscape every second, getting seen and getting shared is challenging, even when you post interesting information. But is it haphazard luck?

Researchers at UCLA and HP Labs don’t think so – and they say they’ve created an algorithm that can predict a tweet’s popularity with 84 percent accuracy. Want to make your tweets more effective?  Here are a few tips to help you get noticed.

Start with a plan

Before you compose a new tweet, think about your audience and what it is you want them to do. Are you trying to drive influence? Get people to participate in a survey? Share job postings with their network? There are different ways to use the medium, and the best practice is to have a strategy and a content plan to ensure what you put out there aligns with your goals.

Have a hook

A quick look at some people I follow on my Twitter feed (@99GR81) reveals people who are “at the hardware store,” “at the doctor again,” and “in need of more coffee.” While injecting some personal information and personality is good (I share tons of my photography and my love of the New York Rangers), the best calls to action are rarely found in short, declarative statements. Look at Twitter as a conduit to the rest of your content – whether you want someone to apply for a job, sign up for a webinar or visit your career site, use it as a hook to get people engaged. If what you’re sending is interesting and actionable, they will @respond or direct the tweet to influential people in their network.

Become a curator

Many organizations are stepping up Twitter activity because of the ease and relatively low cost of content creation on the platform. While creating content is important, serving as a content curator is equally valuable and can make tweets more effective. What makes for effective curation? Using headlines with every tweet to help followers quickly identify what you’re talking about, what they should do with the information and why it’s valuable to them. Sharing information about your area of interest, created by a trusted third-party, makes you a valuable resource.

Accept that brand matters

Some of the most sharable content comes from news organizations. Why? It’s because they’re seen as established, credible sources for information. In addition to a recognized brand, news organizations’ tweets typically get shared because users understand the content – there’s usually a headline with a link to the full story. Take a similar straight-shooter approach, and remember that clear content from a reputable brand has higher probability of being shared because the audience trusts the source and is willing to associate itself with an esteemed brand.

Use appropriate hashtags

Information is everywhere and nearly everyone needs better filtering. Appropriate hashtags are another part of curating content and making it easy for the audience to find and share. Use hashtags to not only help your audience classify the content you are publishing, but also to help you break into other social networks interested in your subject matter. Remember, success in social media is not about sharing with your own network; it’s about getting your network to share your message with their networks.

Shorten links

Long links are not only a waste of precious characters and visual real estate, but they do nothing to help content get re-shared. URL shorteners, like, offer stats and a super-convenient sidebar. They allow you to save some of your 140 characters for more important messaging and give you great insight into metrics.

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