As we saw in our post Which social networks should my business use? Twitter now has over 320 million active users worldwide. So if you’re not already using Twitter for your business, it’s worth signing up.

But with only 140* characters to play with, it’s actually harder than you think to write effective Tweets. How do you get your message across effectively and in the right tone? How do you include a compelling call to action? And how do you start increasing your followers to drive more traffic to your website?

*Great news! As of December 2017, Twitter doubled the maximum characters to 280.

Two types of Tweet

In our experience there are generally 2 types of Tweet:

  1. broadcasts
  2. conversations

Broadcasts are Tweets in which people simply share their content or broadcast their message to their followers. These kinds of Tweets are very common and often created by those who don’t ‘get’ Twitter, as they lack the power of a conversational Tweet. We’re not saying there isn’t a use for broadcasts, but it’s generally better to focus more on conversations.

Conversations on Twitter are much more powerful as they’re about sharing value in the context of a conversation. These can typically be a question to an individual/company or sharing content that is relevant to that person/company. If you hit the mark you’ll get likes, mentions and retweets off the back of your Tweet, which has the network effect of being seen by a lot more people!

There’s no hard and fast rule, but generally conversational Tweets are preferred.

Crafting your Tweet

With only 280 characters available, EVERY CHARACTER COUNTS! Each character is like gold dust, taking up precious space in your Tweet.

Whether you’re sending a broadcast or conversation, here’s our 5-part breakdown to writing an awesome Tweet:

1. The hook

This is the main part of your Tweet and should be a question or statement that is interesting, fun or intriguing enough for people to read on.

Twitter users are generally looking to be informed and entertained. They want news updates, interesting content, discounts and special offers. So you need to make sure your Tweets are engaging, represent your brand personality, and include a compelling call to action.

The call to action is the most important part of your Tweet. What action do you want your followers to take? Click on a link? Retweet your post? Whatever the call to action, make sure it’s clear and simple.

2. The link

More often than not, the goal of your Tweet will be to drive your followers to a blog post, a web page or some other landing page. So you’ll need to include a link, or URL.

Courtney Seiter of Buffer claims that:

“Link clicks are by far the biggest way users interact with content, accounting for 92% of all user interaction with Tweets.”

“But how do I fit my URL in with only 280 characters to spare?” I hear you cry! Well, that’s where URL shorteners come in. These are handy tools that compress your URL into far fewer characters, no matter how long it is to start with.

One option is to use Twitter’s built-in shortener, http://t.co, which automatically shortens any URL you enter. But this will alter a URL of any length to 23 characters, even if the link itself is less than 23 characters long. So you may end up losing some of those precious characters.

A better alternative is to use a URL shortener like Bitly, Ow.ly or TinyURL, the first 2 of which allow you to track your click-through rates as well as saving your character count.

At Wildheart we use Bitly to shorten our links when sharing them on social media. Many consider Bitly to be the No.1 choice when it comes to URL shortening, so it’s good to know we’re on the right track!

3. A relevant hashtag

Hashtags are a way of relating your Tweets to a specific topic. They’ll help your Tweets get found more easily (when people search for the topic), and allow you to more easily engage with wider discussions occurring within that topic.

You can search for existing hashtags using the Twitter search field, or if you’re writing on a broad topic that’s likely to already have a hashtag, just go ahead and apply it, e.g. #contentmarketing or #socialmedia.

You can also start your own hashtags if you want to encourage activity in a niche area, or if your business is running a promotion. For example, we might invite our followers to enter a competition by using the hashtag #wildheartgiveaway.

A word of warning: you should never use more than 2 hashtags in any Tweet. Also, if you’re sending a conversational Tweet to someone new, you might want to leave out hashtags altogether, as they can come across as a bit ‘spammy’.

4. Mention someone relevant

Another useful tool to use in your Tweets is the @mention. When you mention another Twitter user they will see your Tweet, allowing you to give them public acknowledgment or to promote them or their Tweet to your followers.

If you don’t know someone’s username you can search for them using Twitter’s search function and their username will be displayed in the search results.

Influencers

A good strategy is to mention people or companies of influence. This is really really key to building a great network on Twitter. There’s little point starting conversations with random users that have few followers.

You need to actively research the influencers in your field and then target those people – starting friendly conversations that add value, interest or fun to their day.

Just make sure you keep your Tweets relevant and professional. You don’t want to get on the wrong side of your influencers by publicly slating or offending them on social media!

5. A relevant image

Images and videos can significantly increase the engagement rate of your Tweets. If you’re already a Twitter user, think about your own activity on Twitter – are you more likely to view Tweets and click links that include images or videos?

Images and videos can significantly increase the engagement rate of your Tweets.

In Kristina Cisnero’s Hootsuite article, she gives an example of a test they carried out on one of their CEO’s Tweets. They posted the same Tweet twice, but the one with the image had a 79% higher engagement rate than the one without the image.

Any images you use should be relevant and high quality. Remember our Social media image guide for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn? Make sure you’ve sourced your image ethically, you’ve resized it to the optimum Twitter dimensions (1024 x 512px), and you’ve compressed your image to save space, particularly if you’re uploading it to your WordPress media library first.

Leave space for retweeting

Finally, as if all that wasn’t enough to cram into 280 characters, you should always leave space for retweeting.

It’s generally accepted that the “magic retweet number” is 20, i.e. leaving 20 blank characters at the end of your Tweet so that others can retweet with room to add their own message. This means your entire Tweet, including text, link, hashtags and @mentions, should ideally be 260 characters or less – yes, even shorter than the original 280 that you thought was hard enough!

Our top tips for awesome Tweets

Follow our top tips for writing awesome Tweets and you’ll be tweeting like a pro in no time!

  1. Absolutely don’t use all 5 elements above in every Tweet!
  2. Mix up the format of your Tweets. It’s very easy for someone scanning your timeline to see you’re blasting out the same format all the time. This is a big no-no because it feels impersonal and formulaic. Twitter works better the more personal it feels.
  3. If you’re sending a conversational tweet to someone new, you might want to leave out hashtags, as they can feel ‘spammy’.
  4. Only include an image if it’s super relevant, e.g. related to what you’re talking about in your Tweet. Pictures that are too polished or professional-looking can come across a bit salesy.
  5. Don’t be too pushy but don’t give up either! Hang in there when targeting your influencers, even if you get ignored 2 or 3 times. As long as you’re being genuine and helpful you’re likely to see some engagement eventually.
  6. In most cases avoid sending PMs (private messages), as they lose the network effect of the public space – unless of course you want to have private conversations and it’s relevant!
  7. Tweet and retweet alike. If you want others to retweet, reply to and mention your Tweets, it goes without saying you should be doing this yourself too. Don’t go crazy but do engage with the Tweets that interest you. Keep it casual, helpful and friendly.

Practice, practice, practice

Writing great Tweets doesn’t have to be as challenging as it might seem. Just remember to always think about your audience first, and you should see an increase in your Twitter engagement.

And how do you know if a Tweet will suit your audience? Practice, practice, practice! Plus of course, diligent tracking and constant refinement based on your engagement metrics.

Now go forth and get tweeting!

To find out how Wildheart can help dissolve your marketing headaches, including devising a content schedule to effectively share your content across social media networks like Twitter, take a look at the packages we offer, then book a free consultation to go through your options.