If you're anything like my mom (and so many others I've spoken to over the years), 'the Twitter' can be a confusing platform. And justifiably so. The only social media platform with its own language, it can be difficult enough to figure out how to master it for personal use, let alone your business. But when implemented properly, Twitter can be a powerful tool to build and connect with your audience, spread your message, listen to your customers, engage with others in your field, and even make sales or bring in new business (plus, it's actually fun!). Here are 6 boxes that every worthwhile tweet should check:
1. Have a clear, concise message. No matter how great your idea, content, or product is, it doesn't matter if no one knows what you're saying. Use correct, conversational grammar, don't overuse jargon and abbreviations (except if you're speaking to a very specific niche), and write in a way that's easy for your audience to understand. If your tweet requires in-depth explanation, it's probably not meant for Twitter anyway. Instead, post it on Facebook, put it in a blog post, send it out in a newsletter, or, better yet, make a video.
2. Grab - and please - the eye. Tweets with photos, videos, or GIFs outperform text-only tweets in a big way: media tweets can get up to 150% more retweets than their text-only counterparts. Can you really afford to miss out on all that engagement? Use apps like VSCO or PicTapGo to improve your photography if hiring a pro isn't an option; if graphic design isn't in your budget, there are countless image-creation tools that help you design your own shareable imagery, like Canva and Over. When using someone else's social media imagery (from a public account only), make sure you properly credit them.
3. Serve a function or have a call-to-action. A tweet for a tweet's sake is like walking into a crowded party, shouting something random about yourself to no one in particular, and then leaving. While the occasional fluff is fine, most tweets should serve a purpose for your audience, from the informative and educational, to the inspiring, to pure entertainment. If you're including a call-to-action in your tweet, be direct with what you want them to do ('click here,' 'read more,' 'watch this') with a reason why they should. If you're including a link, shorten it using a site like Bit.ly and double check that it works before posting.
4. Project approachability. Sometimes being social on technology can feel a little too... tech-y. Remind your audience that there's a real live person behind your tweets by using friendly, personality-filled language. Anything too clinical feels like a bot is tweeting instead of a human, and that can be the kiss of death for any social profile. But remember, being excited about your message does not mean every! single! sentence! has to end with an exclamation point (or a whole boatload of them!!!!) or that EVERY WORD SHOULD BE IN CAPS. The right lexical choices will capture the same emotions and convey affability without annoying your audience.
5. Warrant engagement. Most of your tweets should be compelling enough that your audience will not only read them, but also interact with them in the form of a retweet, a reply, or even a favorite. The best way to do this is to tweet things that matter to your audience (see #3). The next best? Ask for it! Include a question and then answer any and all replies (conversation is good!). Another way to boost engagement is to tweet about something controversial (but not inflammatory) that pertains to your audience or a current, trending topic that everyone has an opinion on. And if you don't know what those topics are in your industry or among your customer base, it's time to get your ear to the ground.
6. Be searchable. Similar to above, find out what topics, keywords, and (especially) hashtags are trending that are pertinent to your business or message and become a part of the larger conversation. Followers that find you through a specific hashtag or search are the best kind because you already have a shared interest. Just don't go hashtag-crazy; a good rule of thumb is no more than three hashtags per tweet. Most importantly - and I cannot stress this enough - make sure you know exactly what a hashtag means or is referring to before you use it. There's nothing worse than hijacking a hashtag in a completely inappropriate way.
NOTE: For replies and casual Twitter back-and-forth, proper grammar, clear language, and a friendly tone are all you need (though a great GIF or a pertinent link always helps). Twitter is perhaps the most social of all social media platforms, so don't be afraid to join the conversation! Or better yet, create it yourself. But a word of warning: once you get the hang of it, Twitter is mighty addictive.