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November 25, 2013 // 4:00 PM

5 Ways to Extend the Lifespan of a Tweet

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social-followersWhat's the difference between a healthy tweet and a sick tweet? Simply put: Healthy tweets live longer. How long, you ask? Well, the jury’s still out on that. Some reports say 48 hours, while others say 18 minutes. Either way, we marketers are always striving for those healthy tweets -- ones that reach out to our followers and get them engaged with our brand.

But with 9,100 tweets scrolling by every second, we have to do everything we can to get our tweets noticed. There’s a lot of outside factors that influence the lifespan of a tweet -- numbers of followers, time of day you’re tweeting, etc. -- but to make sure your tweets are as impactful as possible, you have to have a game plan.

So, here are five strategies you can employ on Twitter to give your tweets the best chance to be healthy and get noticed by your followers.

1) Optimize your tweets for retweets.

One of the best things about marketing on Twitter is that it gives you a built-in mechanism for extending the lifespan of your tweet: the retweet.

When someone retweets your tweet, it means they found the content valuable enough to share with their own followers, thus extending the lifetime of your tweet. It’s a great way to pass along content to your followers that you didn’t create yourself or to show support to a fellow business or colleague.

Get started by: Checking out the free tool RetweetLab.com. Powered by HubSpot, the tool allows you to analyze any Twitter account to get the data you need to make sure your tweets are retweetable. The tool was created by Dan Zarrella, who wrote The Science of Retweets and has spent years analyzing data to bring us best practices for social media marketing. (One quick tip: Always cap your tweets at around 115 characters for optimal retweet-ability.)

2) Schedule your tweets in advance.

Twitter is a great platform for on-the-fly updates, but when you’re using Twitter as part of your overall social media strategy, you'll want to schedule tweets in advance that complement other aspects of your marketing. This will help keep your tweets healthy because you'll have time to optimize them.

That’s not to say you can’t post Twitter updates while at a big conference or event. But what if you’re the sole social media marketer for your company and you’re at the event? It’s good to have a few tweets cued up for backup that still support your other marketing efforts.

Get started by: Setting aside 10 minutes a week to schedule tweets in advance. Friday might even be the best day to do this, so you know when you get in to work on Monday, you have your social media content all planned out for the week. This leaves you room to practice newsjacking for anything that’s relevant to your industry or capitalize on a marketing campaign that’s doing really well by adding in a few extra tweets mid-week.

(HubSpot customers: We just made a fantastic planning spreadsheet so you can bulk upload tweets with ease.)

3) Include a link in all of your organic tweets.

Unless you’ve got a Twitter update that shakes the entire world, adding a link to your tweets is great way to keep it healthy. It brings even more content to your tweet while staying within the confines of Twitter’s character limits. It also gives people something valuable to pass on to their followers beyond your commentary on the link. Providing valuable information to your followers is the best way to get noticed.

Get started by: Taking a link and coming up with multiple ways to promote it. We recently posted this article and suggest promoting one link in five different ways by using the title of the page, a quote, one takeaway you discovered, one statistic, and a sentence of commentary. Not a bad exercise to do, especially when tweets with links are 86% more likely to be retweeted.

4) Get more Twitter followers.

There’s no magic number when it comes to Twitter followers. But the more followers you have, the more likely it is that someone will see your update and engage with you. For example, if Justin Bieber were to retweet you, it’s possible your tweets would be seen by millions (maybe even tens of millions). But unless you're a megastar, you'll have to settle for getting followers the old-fashioned way.

Get started by: Engaging with others in your industry on Twitter. You can search Twitter for relevant hashtags, or industry terms, to help you find other people or companies that are like you. You can even create lists of these folks so you can easily monitor their Twitter updates and see who else they're engaging with. Connect with them by retweeting them or asking them questions about content they’ve shared. But don't resort to getting new followers by tricks or bots -- that's just not proper social media etiquette.

5) Use a hashtag in your tweets.

Hashtags are commonly used in tweets to give those scanning through some quick context about the subject of the update. You may not say the word “social media” in your update, but adding #socialmedia to your tweet will catch the eyes of those interested in the subject. Also, hashtags are a great way to search for tweets - so your tweets should be optimized for search as well.

Get started by: Having a handy list of 7-10 hashtags that you can always use in your tweets. Setting up the list early takes the guesswork out when your tweeting on the go or scheduling tweets for the week. You should use these hashtags when sharing your own organic content and especially when you’re curating content to make it easy for your followers to understand the relevance of your retweet.

Along with these five strategies to keep your tweet healthy, don't forget to make sure you've put some thought into the copy, too. Crafting your update to include an attention-grabbing title, or colorful commentary, will go a long way in making sure your tweets get noticed by your followers. Be interesting, be authentic, and most importantly, keep the "social" in social media by being human.

What other strategies do you have for making sure your tweets last as long as possible? Let us know in the comments!

twitter tip sheet guide

Topics: Social Media

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