Twitter is undoubtedly one of the best places to promote the blog posts you write. It can also be pretty fickle. The problem with Twitter is that content flies past users at an extremely fast rate, and for every awesome post being tweeted, there are ten (probably more, really) ridiculous retweets that aren’t interesting or helpful. In other words, there’s a lot of crap on Twitter, and your posts can easily be lost in the shuffle.
I don’t like people who write link bait for the sake of driving traffic. It should go without saying that you need quality content. Otherwise, any content that you drive to your blog won’t stick. People won’t trust you and likely won’t come back again.
But beyond writing great content, what can you do to increase the chance that your post will gain a little traction on Twitter or even go viral? Here are a few tips you can keep in mind:
- Write a bangin’ headline.
This seems like a no-brainer, but keep in mind that your headline doens’t have to be something super shocking. It just has to be something that people want to share. In addition to writing a good headline, keep in mind that Twitter has a character limit. People forget this so often! Keep your titles on the shorter side so that people can add their own comments when retweeting. Remember, your initial tweet should be well under 140 characters so people can edit easily.
- Reference people on Twitter within your post.
People like to share content when they’re involved. One of the things I do every week is attend #blogchat and discuss two or three of my favorite tweets made during that group discussion. Afterward, the people who I’ve mentioned in my posts always retweet the link, and most have friends who retweet it as well. You don’t have to specifically discuss things that have been said on Twitter, though. You can also just discuss general things a person has said on his or her blog or via a comment, forum post, etc. When you send out the tweet about your post, make sure to @ reply the person/people so they know they’ve been mentioned.
- Create Tweet-able quotes.
I find it to be an ultimate success not when someone retweets one of my links but when they actually pull a quote from the post and tweet that with a link back. Good content should automatically create tweetable quotes, right? Not necessarily. The character limit comes into play, and if there’s not a definitive one-sentence statement that makes someone shout, “YES! EXACTLY!” when they read it, you aren’t writing a tweet-able post. It could be the most amazing post in the world, but that doesn’t mean there are tweet-able quotes in it.
- Highlight interaction opportunities.
Twitter is all about interaction, so posts where this is highlighted tend to do better than non-interactive posts. Of course, every blog post is interactive (assuming you have comments turned on), but for example, if you ask for opinions from readers, like I’m about to do, it entices people to get involved, which is the spirit of Twitter in the first place. Strong opinion pieces do the same. If the post doesn’t lend itself well to comments, it likely won’t lend itself well to Twitter either, though this does vary depending on niche.
- Be emotional.
Twitter posts that are extremely personal and emotion always spread well. That doesn’t mean you need to make your readers cry every time they log online. Hell, look at this post. I think it’s a pretty useful topic with a good headline, but it isn’t emotional. That’s okay. Sprinkling in emotional posts, however, is a great way to get a little Twitter love. Don’t be afraid to bare your soul, at least a little, when writing a post. Also, keep in mind that “emotional” doesn’t just mean sad. It could be heart-warming in a happy or funny way instead.
Before I turn the floor over to you guys for your best Twitter content-writing tips, I wanted to mention a few ways that I do think content can suck for Twitter. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are bad posts – they just are less likely to get Twitter traction. As you’re determining your editorial calendar or deciding what to write for the day, think about how you’re mixing in these types of posts.
- News – Unless it’s breaking, people have probably already passed it around Twitter from larger sources, like the Huffington Post or TMZ. Even if you put your own spin on it by adding opinion, it’s hard for bloggers to get attention with a news story on Twitter.
- Popular Topics – Twitter is all about sharing things that are original. If your blog post is about a topic that is super popular, it’s likely going to get lost in the conversation unless you’re saying something that is really unique. If your post is about a popular topic, put some extra oomph into creating an awesome headline that will attract clicks.
- Scam-Related Topics – Now I know that no one here would ever scam their readers, but there are some pretty shady people on Twitter. I see a lot of “Gain 10,000 Twitter Followers Today!” and “The Easy Way to Make Six Figures With Your Blog!” going on. It’s become white noise for me somewhat. If you’re going to make a big claim and back it up with awesome content, that’s something I definitely want to read – but be careful with how you promote it. You want to stand out from the crowds of people making ridiculous claims that lead to posts full of BS.
A few other things I hate to see on Twitter:
- “Please Retweet” with every single post (have a good reason if you ask for retweets)
- Tweeting the same post over and over again throughout the day (two or three times is fine, but don’t clog my Twitter stream otherwise unless you have a really good reason)
- Mentioning me or DMing me links even when the post has no more relevance to me than normal (if you mention me in it or write something similar to what I’ve recently written, great – otherwise, trust me to be a subscriber if I want notices when you post something new)
And of course, it bears saying it again: content that doesn’t deliver. Write awesome content. That always needs to be #1.
Your turn – what have you done to create content to specifically catch the eye of those on Twitter? What posts do you find to be hard to promote on Twitter? What things do you hate seeing on Twitter?