Writing an effective tweet

Writing a tweet is easy – after all, what can you get wrong when you only have 140 characters to play with?

Quite a lot, it turns out.

Recently Ben and I did some training at a local authority up in the North-East, and part of it was a quick workshop on writing for the web and for social media. We spent a fair bit of time looking at Twitter as a medium.

We ran an exercise where everyone had a story for which they had to write a tweet to promote it. We went through the process a couple of times, with people rewriting their tweets to improve them, save characters, and that sort of thing.

Here’s some of the learning that emerged:

  1. Make sure it begins with an impactful, information carrying word or two. Tweets may be short, but they still need to grab the attention. Tweets beginning with ‘News’ or ‘Announcement’ are wasting space – we know it;s an announcement, else it wouldn’t be on Twitter!
  2. Use  a URL shortener to save characters – but customise it to make it human readable too, as this adds meaning and can save characters elsewhere
  3. Leave some space for old school retweeters and those who like to add a short comment to a retweet
  4. Formatting on Twitter is limited. Make use of capital letters to add emphasis – but sparingly
  5. Draft tweets and work on them – don’t publish your first go. Instead, go through it a couple of times trimming characters and improving the language
  6. Time your tweets – those posted in the morning tend to get more active attention than later in the day. Also don’t post on the hour – lots of automated systems are set up to do that and you might get drowned out
  7. Don’t be afraid of repeating a tweet so people can pick it up at another time or day – but don’t do it too often
  8. You need to work hard to appear authoritative in a social space so people feel they can trust the information you are providing. Ensure you include concrete facts to reinforce this
  9. A key thing for people getting information from social networks is the idea they are getting something special – use language that enforces the uniqueness of the content they are seeing
  10. Whatever you do, don’t automate this process! There’s nothing worse than those press releases pumped out onto Twitter, with half the tweet filled with “PRESS RELEASE” and then half the title missing on the end… just taking five minutes to think about what you are writing can make a real difference!

If a workshop on best use of social media in your organisation would be helpful – just get in touch! We’d be happy to chat about your requirements and design something that meets your needs.

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Dave Briggs

I'm an experienced senior manager in digital and ICT, looking for interim engagements to modernise technology teams to help organisations transform.

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