As an inbound marketer, one of my favorite uses of Twitter is getting my content retweeted thousands of times, sending tons of traffic to my site that I can then convert into leads. Over the past 3 years, I've done an enormous amount of research to determine what tweeting behaviors and tweet characteristics lead to more retweets, and I'm ready to share what I've learned with you!
Two types of content users frequently tweet are links, and replies to other tweets. When I took a look at which type of content gets more retweets, it was clear that users who tweet more links (as opposed to more replies and conversations) were the winners. It makes sense when you think about it -- I'm much more likely to retweet an interesting piece of content that you've posted that a bit of twitter chit-chat, especially when that chit-chat is part of an ongoing conversation of which I'm not a part.
2) Tweet About Twitter
It turns out that Twitter is full of social media dorks (and I say "dorks" lovingly). Lots of the people on Twitter are -- big surprise -- really into Twitter, and love reading about it and retweeting that content. Tweeting about Twitter is a great way to tap into a common interest that most of your followers share, regardless of their industry. After all, they wouldn't be Twitter followers if they didn't like Twitter, now would they?
3) Say Something New
When I compared the "commonness" of certain words in retweets versus the "commonness" of words contained in a random sampling of non-retweeted tweets, I found that retweets tend to contain much rarer words. People don't want to retweet the same things that everyone else is saying, they want their tweets to stand out! If you want to get retweeted more often, you need to say something new ... or at least say something in a way people haven't heard it before.
4) Ask for the Retweet
As marketers of all stripes know, calls-to-action are very important -- if you want someone to take a specific action, you have to ask them to take that action. Twitter is no different. I analyzed tens of thousands of tweets, and found that tweets that contained the phrase "please retweet" were retweeted 4 times more often than tweets that did not contain a call-to-action.
5) Experiment With Contra-Competitive Timing
Have you ever been to a noisy party, and you can barely hear the person two feet in front of you talking? But then you say something awkward, and right at that moment, the rest of the party suddenly gets quiet and the whole room can hear your embarrassing story? Take that principle, apply it to Twitter, and you'll get more retweets with less embarrassment. When overall Twitter activity starts to slow down on Fridays, retweet activity tends to increase. When the rest of the social media world is more quiet, it can be easier to make yourself heard.
6) Don't Talk About Yourself
I'm not on Twitter to hear about you and your life. I mean, unless we're friends in real life, of course. I'm on Twitter to get information that will either benefit me, or help others (and by extension, benefit me). Your followers don't want to retweet content that just talks about you. Retweets tend to contain much less self-reference than a random sampling of non-retweeted tweets. So stop talking about yourself, and make content that others can relate to and get value from!