It doesn’t matter how much social media changes; one core skill that sets a good social media manager apart will always be the ability to write engaging tweets.
Knowing how to write tweets that engage your audience is a matter of understanding their interests and following the seven tips below. It doesn’t hurt to throw in a little humor as well—knowing how to write funny tweets can take you far, as the brands below have demonstrated.
Keep reading to learn how to garner more engagement on Twitter.
1. Know your limits
Twitter caused a bit of a stir several months ago when it doubled the character cap allowed on tweets from 140 to 280. This feature was slowly rolled out across Twitter, leading to brand tweets like these:
Source: @DiGiornoPizza via Twitter.
The added character count gives brands extra room to be creative, but for everyday tweeting, it still helps to stay concise.
The extra room helps facilitate customer service conversations and cut down on hard-to-follow threaded tweets, which are often indicated with an (X/X) at the end of each post. This should boost engagement and cut down on the frustration associated with trimming down tweets to fit the character count, which Twitter hopes will get more people tweeting.
2. Speak your audience’s language
To earn more engagement on Twitter, one of the prerequisites is knowing your audience. The most successful brands on Twitter go even further: they speak their followers’ language and are familiar with their everyday struggles.
Finals pro tip: it’s harder to fail when you’re full.
— Chipotle (@ChipotleTweets) December 5, 2017
Source: @ChipotleTweets via Twitter.
In the process, the most successful brands develop a consistent voice that their followers come to expect and even playfully interact with.
Just remember that there is a difference between brand voice and tone. Your brand’s tone is situational and should be adjusted accordingly. This is especially true when responding to sensitive customer service requests—you need to know when to break out of your brand voice and offer up a solution or an apology.
3. Don’t set and forget
Smart brands build content calendars to keep their feeds active and consistent. Even smarter brands know that in addition to their scheduled content, they need to tweet in the moment to remain relevant.
Of course, the classic example is this tweet @Oreo sent during the 34-minute power outage at the 2013 Super Bowl:
Power out? No problem. pic.twitter.com/dnQ7pOgC
— Oreo Cookie (@Oreo) February 4, 2013
But you don’t need to be a social media superstar to rock off-the-cuff tweeting. You don’t even need to sell a glamorous product. I’m just going to leave you with this punny piece of newsjacking from @Charmin:
— Charmin (@Charmin) September 20, 2017
4. A picture (or video, or gif) is worth 1000 words
…And you don’t have room for 1000 words (280 characters, remember?), so images and videos are the next best thing.
Media attachments take up more screen real estate, meaning that your tweet is more likely to stand out in your followers’ feeds. They are also more engaging; one study by Twitter showed a 35% increase in retweets on photos and a 28% increase in retweets on videos on average.
It never hurts to use that extra engagement from media to make your followers laugh. For example, the build-up in this video from @sonic_hedgehog just makes the end result even funnier:
Lifehack: How to bake amazing Sonic cookies. pic.twitter.com/vWOUdlGrdd
— Sonic the Hedgehog (@sonic_hedgehog) January 4, 2018
Yes, hashtags can increase engagement, but it is important to hashtag with moderation.
The same Twitter study I just mentioned found that using hashtags increased engagement on Twitter by 16%. That increase is not universal, however; another more recent study found that the optimal number of hashtags is one. Not just that, but engagement also declines as the number of hashtags included goes up.
Hold your horses: piling on the hashtags is linked with a decrease in engagement. Source: @DennysDiner
Beyond just jumping on trends or popular industry hashtags, you can also create your own hashtags. @Wendys recently celebrated the one year anniversary of that time they “roasted someone so badly they deleted their account” with #NationalRoastDay. Followers jumped for the opportunity to be roasted, making for quite the busy (and successful) day for their social media team.
Don't worry. We've heard Kool-Aid washes out.
— Wendy's (@Wendys) January 4, 2018
6. Shorten your URLs
As marketers, we have a natural desire to track and measure, and that extends to tagging our URLs. Unfortunately, tagging URLs tends to make them rather long. And ugly.
You can take this one step further and set up a custom domain to use as your brand’s unique URL shortener. This can add a measure of trust to your tweets that an anonymous Bitly link might be lacking. You can see this in action in @Moz’s short URLs (though with a domain name like moz.com, one begins to wonder to what extent this is necessary… but that’s neither here nor there).
— Moz (@Moz) December 29, 2017
7. Always test
And now for the requisite disclaimer: what works for one brand may fall flat for yours, or vice versa. That’s why it is important to always test new ideas, post timing, and other features (like media, hashtags, and custom URL shorteners) to see what works and what doesn’t.
If you want to write tweets that get more engagement, you can learn some valuable lessons from brands who are already winning the engagement game. Just follow the seven cardinal rules of Twitter engagement above, and don’t forget to adapt them as necessary to suit your brand’s unique style and voice.