Twitter is a mixed bag when it comes to social media engagement. Tweets are plentiful and most of them go pretty unnoticed, even for accounts with a solid following.
It’s much easier to hear back from your followers on Facebook and Google Plus. On Twitter, you never know.
However, that’s also the beauty of the platform. There is one important phenomenon that keeps me using Twitter as a primary network: its variety and flexibility.
None of the other social media platforms offers such a variety in my actual reach. One tweet may reach a completely different set of eyes than the following one.
Facebook tends to connect you to the same group of people again and again. Out of all your friends, they will identify those you seem to keep closer contact with and keep prioritizing their updates for you over the rest of your friends. Google Plus focuses on serving you content they think might interest you. LinkedIn is very topical: Career and self-growth topics go hot there almost exclusively.
Twitter is almost random. It’s open and limitless. It makes random celebrities so close to you that you can reach them within a matter of seconds.
And I am saying this because I am dealing with that feeling all the time for the past eight years. I have found a handful of tactics that have helped me make the most of each tweet and discover the real power of Twitter. I can’t say I have been really strategic with any of them, but just playing with these has made a huge difference.
I do schedule tweets regularly, especially when I read a lot and I don’t want to overwhelm my followers with lots of links.
Sometimes I auto-share my Instagram updates or Quora answers to Twitter too (again, sometimes).
But that’s about all the automation I use nowadays. I have cut off all RSS auto-tweeting sources I used to have. I don’t auto-tweet.
And don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against people who do. I am not against smart scaling and proper automation. It’s just that auto-tweeting makes me miss too many cool things I can do with my tweets. Auto-tweeting lets more of my tweets go unnoticed and that’s a waste of my Twitter stream. Auto-tweeting makes smart tagging and hashtagging impossible, and I use those two tactics all the time to reach more attention to my tweets (more on these below).
Find the Right Hashtag
A good hashtag is like a signal, a medium and a channel, beckoning people forward, urging them to share or read or favorite. I tend to keep an eye out to see what hashtags are being used the most by the people within my own industry that I follow. Then I use them where relevant, occasionally using cheeky ones as well.
Of course, this takes a bit of experimentation to get it right (some people manage to double their Twitter engagement by using hashtags). But over time, you will start to see hashtags that make the most impact and bring the most attention.
My rules of thumb for hashtags on Twitter:
- Usually only one hashtag, two at most: Hashtags are linked within tweets. Unless you want your 140-character tweet to look like one huge hyperlink, limit your use of hashtags.
- I don’t use generic, obvious hashtags (like #health for example): A good hashtag is very specific (location, event, celebrity/brand name, etc).
The four tools I use for hashtag discovery and tracking:
- Hashtagify: To discover trending and related hashtags
- Tweetdeck: To monitor my brand-related hashtags and discover industry Twitter chats
- TwChat: To participate in hashtag-driven Twitter chats
- Cyfe: To monitor and archive the variety of hashtag results on Twitter
Stop Tweeting Headlines
For a long time, the use of headlines with links was considered the best approach to content sharing strategy, especially if you managed to find some sensationalist headlines that really caught the eye (old habits die hard, after all). But this is no longer the case for everyone, and in a number of industries, users will skim over headlines completely.
Instead, offer content teasers. Provide a quote from an interview you are linking to, take a sentence from the intro or conclusion, hint at what is going to be revealed without giving away too much.
My favorite strategy is to provide a comment without giving a context. That always results in a spike of interest (clicks and replies):
Your tweet should intrigue and pique interest if you want your readers to do more than just read and scroll further.
While visual tweeting still has lots of argument around it (for example, some tests show more people tend to unfollow you after you tweet a series of photos), visual tweets are getting more and more popular. Tweets with images get 18 percent more clicks, 89 percent more favorites and 150 percent more retweets.
Visuals are some of the most valuable tools for Twitter, so use them smartly. I wouldn’t overdo tweeting pictures. (Note: I’ve seen very successful Twitter streams that include a picture with each and every tweet, so this is just my personal recommendation. Take it with a grain of salt.)
I tweet a picture when it adds context to the tweet. I don’t tweet pictures for attention bait purposes (even though, like I said, visual tweeting does work well for some people).
Tweeting a cool screenshot is my favorite way of utilizing visual tweets:
When I was reading a new book by an industry leader, I made sure to tweet about it. I used both their branded hashtag for the book itself, and @mentioned the account of the author. Do you know what happened? First, the author noticed and retweeted my original. Then a whole wash of people favorited and retweeted it. Then more people came and followed me.
Social media tagging is one of the best ways to build connections with industry influencers.
Make sure to reach out to influencers or brands when that makes sense. It is a short lived surge in visits, but it is what builds up your Twitter presence, one tweet at a time.
Tweet Calls to Action
Imperative verbs inspire action. That’s why web calls to action (and the smart use of them) are so important for your web success.
Never overdo calls to action on social media, but the occasional hint of the action to take after one clicks the link could make a huge difference!
Here are more tricks I haven’t truly tested yet but are on my to-do list:
Salesforce research suggests we should tweet less to see more impact. (It’s just something I cannot force myself to do! But please do share your experience if you do!). Here’s the source.
Dan Zarrella’s research shows that using shorter tweets increases engagement. He found tweets between 120 and 130 characters have the highest click-through.
Tweet quotes: This is something I know attracts retweets. I just don’t have time to play with that tactic properly.
Anything to add? Please use the comments section!
Twitter is one of the best possible resources for driving traffic to your website. The above tips have been immensely helpful to me, and hopefully will be to you, as well.
If you have any tips to share with readers, leave them in the comments below! I am always looking for new tactics to improve my social media strategy.