3 Killer Tips & Tricks to Easily Master Twitter
Twitter is a curious thing. Over a billion accounts; yet only 250 million active users. A seemingly arbitrary 140 character limit; not quite the 160 of, say, SMS, as pioneered by Nokia in the 1990s. And with seemingly no rhyme or reason to its inexorable news feed flooding you with a veritable cacophony of communication, you wouldn’t be blamed for tossing it aside as little more than an absurd bit of social media excess; the whipped cream heaped atop an otherwise sufficiently fat-laden ice cream sundae.
But you would be wrong. Because, you see, Twitter is more than just whipped cream; it’s a mind bogglingly, face-distortingly powerful thing indeed, but only once you familiarize yourself with the following 3 things you need to know to easily master Twitter:
1. #Hashtags are powerful. Very powerful.
First things first. Don’t even think about tweeting without using at least one hashtag. Just, don’t. In fact, the more the better.
Hashtags enable you to make sure that your tweets get “indexed,” and therefore targeted to, and discovered by, the most relevant audience. If you don’t include any hashtags, then, your tweets will be lost in the Twitterverse.
The more hashtags a tweet has, the more likely it is to be favorited or retweeted.
Trouble is though, coming up with the best hashtags can be tough. For example, suppose you wanted to tweet an article you just wrote on climate change: would you include the hashtag #climatechange or #globalwarming?
One way to figure this out is to search the various hashtags you’re considering directly from Twitter; but this is cumbersome and takes time.
An easier way to do this is to use a tool like HashTest.io which provides realtime color-coded results that can then be copied and pasted as desired:
According to Dan Zarella’s superb blog on social engagement research and analytics, the more hashtags a tweet has, the more likely it is to be favorited or retweeted.
2. Tweet length Matters. Aim for 100–115 characters.
The optimal twitter length seems to be about 100–115 characters for purposes of maximizing retweeting, and there’s a very good and practical reason for this. Usually when retweeting a message, at a minimum, the letters “RT” — for “retweet” — are prefixed to the tweet. Then, almost invariably, the sender of the original message is cited by their twitter name, e.g., “RT @Twibbleio.”
Keeping your tweets between 100–115 characters increases the likelihood that they will be retweeted.
To appropriately retweet one of our tweets, for example, would require at a bare minimum 13 characters (spaces count). This means that an otherwise sufficiently brief tweet of 130 characters will be maddeningly frustrating to appropriately retweet with proper citation to the original sender as it will now become 143 characters: the 130 characters of the original message plus another 13 for the “RT @Twibbleio” prefix.
The only way around this then would be the frustrating — and questionable — task of editing the original tweet, which is rather akin to altering someone’s words when quoting them since, after all, a retweet is indeed tantamount to quoting someone. And at the very least, it’s just a bother. The whole point about Twitter is that it should be a fast and spontaneous activity, and shouldn’t take any time and effort.
Keeping your tweets between 100–115 characters then isn’t just a benefit to your followers; it’s a benefit to you too, since it increases the likelihood that your tweet will in fact be retweeted.
For more statistical evidence of this, head back over to Zarella’s excellent blog where’s he done all the number crunching, complete with easy-to-read graphs.
3. Images matter. A LOT.
There’s no other way to say this: if you’re sending tweets without images, then you might as well not be using Twitter. And to be clear, we’re not talking about image links like pic.twitter.com. We’re talking about actual images that are embedded, and appear in, the actual tweet itself, without the need to click through a link.
Tweets with images are a staggering 97% more likely to be retweeted.
Or perhaps your content isn’t a blog, but a YouTube channel. If ever there was quantitative data about how a picture (or video) is worth a thousand words, this is it: tweets with images are a staggering 97% more likely to be retweeted. Clearly then, you absolutely want to ensure that your content is constantly being tweeted with images or videos embedded directly into the tweet.
If you’re interested to see the indisputable data on the impact images have on retweets, Dan’s got you covered here, too.
Wrapping it all up
So there you have it, your 3 step Twitter primer to help you maximize your social engagement by increasing the chance of getting retweeted, favorited, or otherwise engaged by your users. In short, keep the following best practices in mind to easily master Twitter:
1. Research and use hashtags liberally; generally, tweets with one or more hashtags are 55% more likely to be retweeted.
2. Keep your tweets to around 100–115 characters to allow quick and easy retweeting by others.
3. Absolutely make sure to embed images or videos in your tweet, and use a tool like Twibble to help you.
If you make a point to apply the above advice, you should see your engagement — and an increase in followers — nearly immediately. And suddenly, Twitter won’t feel quite so random and useless anymore, and you’ll hopefully find it to be a powerful driver of traffic back to your site.
UMBS Studio, a blog about SEO and internet marketing headed by Abdul Majeed Siddiqui, has a great 8-step writeup on how to consistently get more real, organic followers and retweets. It’s a great read and highly recommended.