Image: Matthew Loffhagen
As writers, you know the importance of choosing your words carefully. It’s your job to perfectly communicate your intended message to your readers. Finding the right words to express an idea is the key to writing fantastic prose.
It’s just as crucial for a writer to choose their words carefully when they’re limited to 140 characters as it is when writing a full novel. Marketing researchers have spent a lot of time studying statistics and learning about behaviors regarding Twitter. They’ve found that sometimes the inclusion of a single word can make a phenomenal difference to readers’ responses to a tweet.
In the spirit of honing your craft and improving your social media presence, let’s have a look at how we can make your tweets as effective as possible.
Different kinds of tweets
It’s important to note that not all tweets need to follow the formula I’m about to discuss. As you use Twitter, you’ll probably write two different kinds of tweets, which I like to call ‘Marketing Tweets’ and ‘Human Tweets’.
Human Tweets are the results of writers being themselves, interacting with fans or sharing their opinions or feelings. These are very important because they help users to feel connected with you as a person, and they show that you’re not just using Twitter to try to sell things to your fans. There’s no right or wrong structure to these, as they’re all about showing your fans that you’re a person, rather than a book machine.
Marketing Tweets are more mercenary. You’re wanting your social media followers to click a link, buy a book, or engage in some way that benefits your book marketing campaign. These aren’t immoral or dirty — many of your followers will be looking forward to knowing where they can get a copy of your latest book, so don’t feel bad about tweeting in this way. These are the tweets that benefit the most from a more careful construction.
The perfect tweet length
In every tweet, you have 140 characters to play with. For some ideas, you probably feel limited by the short space in which to write – I know I do!
Studies have shown, though, that using every single available character isn’t the best way to get your message seen by the most people. Leaving at least 20 characters blank means that anyone who retweets you has space to add their own message, and therefore makes it more likely that your message will reach further.
It’s also not wise to go too short, though — a tweet that’s less than 100 characters is much less likely to be noticed by your followers. As they scroll down their feed, shorter messages tend to go unnoticed.
The optimum length for a tweet is around 100 characters — it’s long enough to be noticed, but short enough to let other people retweet it and add in their own comments.
The best way to get your tweet seen by new potential followers is to make use of hashtags. If you use #cake, then people who are looking to see tweets about cake will be lead to you. Or, more helpfully, you could use hashtags such as #book, #novel or #selfpublished.
Often, hashtags on Twitter end up trending — a lot of people will be talking about the same subject at the same time. Tweeting using these tags are a great way to engage in a conversation and be seen by new potential followers.
It’s tempting to use as many hashtags as possible to draw in the greatest possible readership, but the more tags you use, the fewer people will pay attention to your tweet. Too many hashtags come across as desperate, and make the message of your tweet less noticeable. It’s been found that the optimal number of hashtags to use per tweet is two — use any more, and people will stop paying attention.
Twitter action words
When you’re tweeting, every word counts. If you’re asking readers to do something, it helps a lot to call them to action — using words like ‘click’ or ‘look’ have been shown to increase the likelihood that readers will interact with a web link. Adding urgency helps as well — ‘right now’ is a good expression to encourage readers to do something. ‘Please’ is another fantastic tweet word — it never hurts to be polite!
Obviously, as with every aspect of tweeting, action words are less effective if you go overboard. But the simple inclusion of an action word has been proven to dramatically increase the likelihood of readers following links or sharing tweets. Action words are to tweets what pepper is to a plate of spaghetti: you only need to sprinkle a little on in order to add flavor — too much ruins the whole plate.
Don’t forget the message
In working to make your tweets as effective as possible, it’s important not to lose sight of your ultimate goal. You want your tweets to be readable, and to encourage readers to engage in some way, either by clicking a link, sharing your tweet, or engaging in some other way with your content.
Above all though, it’s important to remember that there’s no magic formula to writing anything, whether it’s a tweet or a novel. Feel free to break the rules if you think it’ll help your message, and be sure to experiment with your tweets so that hopefully, over time, you’ll get better at finding the right way to inspire your followers to take action.
Once you’ve created your perfect tweets, use a tweet scheduler like the free Social for Publishers to make sure your tweets are seen throughout the day.
These are only a few ideas for how you can make the best possible use out of your perfect tweet. The internet is full of further suggestions, and of course, these things can be learned by trial and error.
What ideas do you have for making tweets more effective? Please leave a comment below, I’d love to hear your ideas so that we can all get a little better at tweeting!