Tweet This, Not That: Simple Swaps That'll Make Your Twitter Posts More Appealing

Liz O’Neill



twitter_tips_for_businessBy now, most marketers know the drill. Tweet early and often. Be fun and personable. Don’t tweet politics or religion. Work toward engagement -- not follower count -- and the leads will find you.

So far, it’s working. According to HubSpot, 36% of all marketers have found a customer (or vice versa) via Twitter in 2013.

What’s hamstringing the other two-thirds? The solution may come in the form of small changes and simple substitutes -- a strategy inspired by a well-known diet book. So here are five subtle swaps -- all courtesy of popular food and beverage brands -- that deserve a closer look. Dig in! 

1) The Uninspired Tweet

Some marketers still neglect to mention why their links or downloads are noteworthy, insightful, unique, hilarious, and -- most importantly -- worth reading. Using specifics and personalization can make a big difference. Compare these two tweets about a Pepperidge Farm social media story -- which tweet would you click? In this case, the Pepperidge Farm fan had the right idea.



If one example seems more compelling than the other, there may be a physiological reason. According to research by scientests at the University of Pennsylvania, certain emotions -- shock, fear, anger, nostalgia, and amusement -- trigger social sharing impulses. Ask yourself what kind of emotion your next tweet might elicit. “Meh” doesn’t count. (It’s also worth mentioning that a manual retweet might have helped Pepperidge Farm support and promote this inspired moment better than the automatic RT.)

2) The “Spare a Dime?” Tweet 

When it comes to Twitter, social media data shows that simple calls to action are the most effective. In fact, Dan Zarrella found the only phrase that sparks more social interaction than “please retweet” or “please RT” is “please help.” Pretty straightforward, right?

On the other hand, asking for a retweet or follow is a bit like borrowing money. Use your favors wisely and remember to repay them. Retweet requests are great for spreading the word about contests, charity events, customer appreciation campaigns, or even informal market research ... but less successful as random tweets. For example, which of these pizza-themed posts would you rather share? 



3) The Timely Tweet

Tweets about relevant current events are great additions to any social media calendar because, “they help drive cultural relevance with [your] audience,” according to a Fast Company piece on real-time marketing. Recently, marketing observers have applauded brands like Oreo, whose social extemporizing included on-the-spot tweets during the Super Bowl blackout and instant word play following the #RoyalBabyWatch.

But there’s more to relevance than simple timeliness. And if your target audience is totally uninterested (or, for example, members of Britain’s anti-monarchy group) something like “Long live the crème,” may not be such a popular post. So, use timely tweets with purpose and specificity. Prospects with a taste for pop culture appreciate general fun and humor. Brand fans who identify with particular values will want to share events and announcements that celebrate your contributions in those realms. Check out two of Skinnygirl Cocktail’s examples to see when you should -- and shouldn't -- infuse your content with topical references:



4) The Defensive Tweet

Social media offers some great opportunities to communicate with your prospects and your existing customers. And while most marketers know better than to ignore pointed comments, some err too far in the other direction -- addressing every negative tweet with a public mea culpa. 

You don’t have to be Burger King or Bank of America to see how this can go badly. Whether you receive two or two thousand complaints per week, you should keep the apologies in proportion with your positive, informative output. Consider using direct messages (DMs) if you find yourself answering lots of similar concerns. And don’t forget to tweet any universal fix that addresses a series of grievances (e.g. Yay! Our website is up and running again. Thanks for your patience!).

The examples below come from a major foodservice distributor with a disproportionate ratio of defensive tweets, despite worthwhile news and a well-known spokesman.



5) The Curated Tweet

There’s no reason to shoulder the content production load all by yourself. In fact, “recognizing remarkable content from others is a core link and relationship-building strategy,” say the great minds at HubSpot. Because otherwise, your tweet log starts to read like a long list of sales pitches. Or, in the example below, like you’re running out of ideas. 

At the end of the day, tweets are a form of content curation. Occasionally sharing the stage with others is a smart way to exercise social skills and grow your retweet potential. See how Mott’s gives the nod to a family-friendly resource that aligns with its focus on moms, kids, and healthy eating:


NOT THIS (at least not all the time):

To be fair, individual tweets are just small pieces of an ongoing dialogue. And just like in-person exchanges don’t start with a barrage of facts or pointed requests, lightly conversational tweets (Good morning! How’s your Monday?) aren’t bad additions to your overall repertoire.

Also worth emphasizing: without social reach and engagement monitoring, it’s tough to say what will work best for your unique audience. Sounding human would seem to be a good rule of thumb, but even then, there are always Twitter outliers. Skittles, for example, posts from the perspective of The Rainbow, offering addictively inane tweets celebrated by more than 100,000 followers … That’s food for thought, too.

Liz O’Neill is the content marketing specialist at PMG, an outsourced marketing department for entrepreneurial, B2B firms. You can follow Liz on Twitter @LizO_Neill and @PMGTweets.

Image credit: opensourceway

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