3 Unexpected Ways to Lift Twitter Engagement Rates

We all play the stat-hacking game. When my boss asks me to bump the numbers, my brain goes into overdrive trying to figure out how to get it done. Usually that means good old-fashioned hard work and strategy. But sometimes.. just sometimes.. you can game the system a little to give yourself the edge.

Twitter engagement rates are one such “gameable” metric. Very simply, Twitter Engagement Rate (TER) is a measure of how many users interacted with your tweet after viewing it. That means RTs, favourites, and replies of course, but it also means profile expands, media views, link clicks, and a few other actions that are less visible. And though actions not always visible, they’re always being measured and will impact your TER just the same.

With that in mind, here are three ways to bump your TER that you might not have tried:

Test your copy with Yik-Yak

Ever publish what you thought was a clever and engaging tweet, only to have it fall flat? It happens to the best of us. Figuring out what will resonate with your audience is not easy.

Testing your copy with Yik-Yak is an easy way to throw spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. Yik-Yak’s simplicity, anonymity, and short Yak half-life allows quick content testing without fear of saturating your audience. Here’s how it’s done:

This Yak was upvoted 17 times in an hour, pointing to strong resonation
The same copy in a tweet boasted a 5.1% TER, much higher than average

This tactic works best for copy designed to drive native engagement (rather than for tweets designed to drive traffic) but lessons from top-performing copy can be applied to all types of tweets. Use Yik-Yak as a proving ground for engagement and watch your TER rise.

Reinforce CTAs with emojis

Brands using emojis and millenial language to connect with their audiences is hardly news (check out Brands Saying Bae if you want to vomit), but brands aren’t using the full range of emojis effectively just yet.

Emojis aren’t just smiley faces , finger gestures ️, or piles of umm.. you know . They’re also tools to provide directional cues ️, simplify ideas for the reader, and provide reinforcements of your call to action.

The emoji points to the link, drawing attention to the tweet CTA

The tweet at left uses a simple arrow to point to the blog link, clarifying the call-to-action for the reader and drawing attention to the desired engagement. This tweet saw a lift in TER through additional link clicks, despite not using other best practices for TER (like including an image).

But the fun doesn’t stop with directional cues. Why not use an emoji to suggest a RT, with this one 🔁 ? Why not use something like this ↩️ to ask for replies? Why not use this 🆓 emoji when linking to white-papers or other gated content? Try it, test it, and watch your TER go up.

Optimize for engagement, not display

There’s a long list of actions that a Twitter user can take when faced with your tweet. Your goal… get them to do any one of them.

Two specific metrics are the low-hanging fruit for jacking your TER: Detail expands (the number of people who clicked to expand your tweet in their stream) and embedded media clicks (the number of users who clicked the picture, GIF, or video in your tweet). These are the easiest indicators to use to create lift; they require the least action on the part of the user, much less than a RT, favourite, or reply.

Twitter shows, in stream, media with a 2:1 aspect ratio. That means if your image isn’t optimized for that ratio, it’ll cut off a portion in the top and bottom of the image. This is your opportunity.

Consider the tweet below. The text on the left side is cut off in a way that makes it unreadable; the user is required to click to either expand the tweet, or to click on the image itself to zoom. In this case, it’s a particularly compelling hook with the image and meme that was selected.

The left image teases text inline, requiring the user to click to see the whole story.

It seems counter-intuitive to deliberately post media that isn’t optimized for platform display, but this use of optimization is for engagement, not visual effect. Had the publisher optimized the image for a 2:1 ratio initially, it’s likely that the TER would have been lower.

It would take more (and better) testing to confidently correlate detail expands and embedded media clicks with driving traffic, but for the specific purpose of improving engagement rate those two measures can be effective. Consider how embedded media will be cropped and use that crop as a hook to increase your TER.

Got one to add? Tweet it @mattddrchs.

Bonus read: How Hootsuite increased TER by 180% in Two Months

Like what you read? Give Matt Diederichs a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.