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Written by on January 29th, 2016

At this point, the fact that social media is crucial for small businesses (SMBs) is common knowledge. But understanding each of the social platforms and how to make an impact on them is a different story. And if you’re not a natural social media “butterfly,”  Twitter in particular can be a tough channel to figure out. It has a high learning curve for many new users, but once you learn how to craft ideal tweets, you truly can find success in the “Twitterverse.” So don’t let the intimidation or the generational gap drive you away. Be confident that it really is an effective marketing tool to help promote and grow your business. And don’t forget … we’re here to help you learn how!

The #1 reason that Twitter is one of the toughest spots to convey a business message is because you only have 140 characters to do it! And while 140 might look like a big number, we guarantee that most of your time constructing tweets for your business will be spent chopping it down and just trying to get it to fit — But don’t see the character restrictions as a negative thing! Learning how to to successfully educate, promote, sell, and communicate with customers in only 140 characters is actually a great skill. And doing it on Twitter is good practice in being “short and sweet” and saying only what needs to be said.

In fact, before we get to our best kept Twitter secrets, you should know that even though you technically have 140 characters at your disposal, recent studies show that the ideal tweet is actually between 71-100 characters; And tweets shorter than 100 characters have a 17% higher engagement. So cut to the chase – and make it a fun challenge! You’ve just got to be smart and witty, while being succinct.

So with that, here are 7 secrets that will help you craft the very best tweets:

1. Ask Questions.

Think before you tweet. What are you trying to accomplish on this platform? Are you trying to reach existing followers? Or new followers? Before constructing your message, ask yourself if the tweet adds value to the lives of the people who will read it. Your focus should be the reader and what you think they’d most like to see from you. Furthermore, what is the goal that you want to achieve with the message: clicks, retweets or replies? Do you want to build an audience, create a community, or simply have an outlet to share your thoughts? There aren’t any bad reasons for using Twitter if you simplify your approach. But assuming that everyone is going to like your tweets, regardless of what you say, is a mistake. You’ve got to be intentional about why you’re sending them and how you’re crafting them.

 

2. Simplify and shorten.

The limited space on Twitter means that every character is valuable. So if you tend to be a rambler, you’re going to need to start eliminating words that don’t matter. That said, it’s still very important to maintain a professional appearance and (always!) use proper punctuation and spelling. But as long as things like commas are in the right place, you should feel free to loosen up on standard writing rules a bit! Twitter is a place for colloquial, casual, lingo and people reading your tweets will understand that you’re not a poor writer if you’re more laid back with your language.

Second, and more importantly, make sure you’re using a  link shortening tool. Why? Including links in your tweets will often be a must, given that directing followers to your website will often be the goal. The challenge is that every character in a link you use will count toward your total, leaving you little room to craft any message. Enter the link shortening tool! They magically convert a URL that reads  “https://www.yourtotallyawesomewebsite.com” into one that looks like “bit.ly/1KInmPK” — less than a third of the length of the original link. This saves you a lot of characters that can be used for your message (and is less of an eyesore, too). Bit.ly is the tool we recommend most — it’s easy-as-pie to use and it doesn’t cost a dime. There are other more robust options such as HootSuite and Buffer, which shorten links but also offer other great tools that make a huge impact on the success of your social media presence across all channels (such as the ability to track and analyze engagement).

Another tip: Words and links aren’t the only thing that count as characters in your tweet. Things like images will also take up space. Tools like the ones mentioned above can minimize the characters required to share those, too. So even if you don’t plan on sharing links often, it’s probably still worthwhile to familiarize yourself or and sign up for a social tool ASAP.

 

3. Leave Room for the Retweet.

A retweet is a forwarded or re-posted tweet by someone else. So if you send an awesome tweet, a retweet occurs when one of your followers likes it so much that they want to share it with their followers, too. When this happens, the retweeter is given a chance to add their own message to it before sending it out into the Twitterverse. But here’s the catch. They can only use as many characters leftover from the original tweet…because their retweet is really just an extension of the first.

Like we mentioned above, shorter tweets are proven to result in a higher engagement rate. And the ease of retweeting a shorter message likely plays a role in that stat. Many social gurus have tried to master the perfect tweet, and some say the ‘magic number’ for a retweet is 20 remaining characters. So try not to use every single one of your 140 characters if you can, but keep your tweets closer to an even 120.

Keeping your tweets under 120 characters is a rule you will need to break sometimes. Because you don’t want to sacrifice quality text just for the sake of staying under that limit. So keep in mind, it’s really about balance.

Avid Tweeters love having the option to retweet, and they’ll be able to tell by just looking at a tweet whether there is enough room for them to add their own spin. So keeping your tweets short and sweet will really encourage your followers to engage. And on the off chance you’ve got extra room, go ahead and ask them to retweet it for you! That works. This is important because something like a retweet leads to a conversation, and your followers will love you even more for engaging with them! If done right, it will cultivate a new kind of relationship with your customers that is not achievable through any other channel.

 

4. Use Images.

Images resonate with viewers faster than text. And this stat should be enough to prove the point: Tweets with images receive  18% more click-throughs, 89% more favorites, and 150% more retweets. Plus, if you include a visually-stunning picture or image with your tweet, you don’t have to explain much which is a bonus on Twitter. But make sure that you stick to a theme with your images (and subsequent tweets). Other fun options we recommend sharing gifs, Vine videos, and YouTube videos which are known for generating more retweets than Tweets with basic images. But refrain from linking to your Instagram account. That does not work. In fact, social media scientist Dan Zarella found that Tweets including Instagram links were 42% less likely to be retweeted.

Not sure what images to tweet or how to tweet them, Belle Cooper at BufferSocial does a great job explaining in digestible detail how images work within Twitter, and her research will certainly help you get your feet off the “Twitter pic” ground.

 

5. Use #HashTags.

A hashtag in the Twitter world (and on most other social media platforms) is a word or phrase that includes no spaces and is preceded by a # symbol. While there are differing opinions circulating the web regarding the importance and impact of the hashtag, we stand by the fact they can be hugely helpful in your tweets and they can significantly increase your engagement. But the challenge is that those facts depend on it being done right. Beyond that, the simple truth is that you will send tweets that don’t really call for a hashtag, and others that shouldn’t be sent without them.

Before panicking over the confusion of the complicated and controversial #hashtag, first take a deep breathe and recognize that you don’t have to have it all figured out right off the bat. Through experimentation and research, you can learn which hashtags work best for your business and within your industry. But to get started, here are a three situations that generally call for hashtags:

  1. Categorize and Label Your Tweet:
    A hashtag can be used to categorize your tweet and give readers an instant understanding of what it’s all about — without using excessive characters. For example, if you sell bath and body products and want to tweet about how to use one of them or why a customer should buy it, you may benefit from adding a hashtag to the end of your tweet like #beautytips. This hashtag is easy to read and quickly tells the story of your tweet in two words which will pop off the screen due it it being blue and hyperlinked.
  2. Get Your Tweet Seen in Search Results:
    Another reason to use a hashtag is that some Twitter users search for tweets based on hashtags used, even if they aren’t following the Tweeter. So in the example above, it’s not unlikely that there are people out there specifically interested in gathering beauty tips while perusing the Twitter world. So if you include #beautytips within your Tweet, your message will appear in the search results of anyone looking for that phrase. That means more potential eyes, favorites, follows, and retweets.
  3. Join a Trending Conversation.
    Trending hashtags are the next thing to be aware of in your tweets. If you’re tweeting about something that a lot of other people are also tweeting about (like a current event, a holiday, a conference, or even just a celebrated day of the week), it’s likely that there’s a trending hashtag already appointed to that topic. By using the trending hashtag, you’ll make sure that your tweet is included in the search results of anyone interested in seeing the conversations circulating about that topic or event. Here are a handful of hashtags that might fall under this category: #ElectionDay, #HappyValentinesDay, #SXSW, #ThrowBackThursday, #TGIF
  4. Strengthen Your Brand with Your Own Hashtag.
    The last thing we recommend doing is creating your own hashtag, one that’s not been used a lot before and is specific to your business and brand. Maybe its just the name of your company, or maybe its a tagline or phrase. If you include it in the majority of your tweets over time, followers will eventually associate that hashtag with your brand, and learn to search for that hashtag rather than needing to scroll through every recent tweet to see if you’ve posted anything. In an ideal world, followers and loyal customers will someday be tweeting about you and using the hashtag, too!

There’s a lot more to hashtags, but we wanted to give you enough to get you started. So do keep an eye out for a blog post dedicated to hashtags alone in the near future! And in the meantime just remember to:

  1. Be specific. Make sure you’re using the same hashtag as everyone else if you’re trying to start a conversation. Don’t try to be creative and create your own because it defeats the point.
  2. Keep it simple. Hashtags begin to look like spam if they’re too long or if you use too many. So keep them simple, and don’t use more than 3 hashtags in one tweet.
  3. Give it context. While it is done rather often, we don’t recommend using a hashtag alone without any supporting context. It’s confusing, and frankly, more boring.

 

6. Use Humor.

Humor is the secret sauce of Twitter. We know, we know. ‘Trying to be funny’ can feel forced and awkward for some, and it’s not always easy to get right. So if you’re just starting out, find a few topics that you care about, that you can also incorporate into your own brand. Think outside the box and look at some bigger competitors of yours that have been tweeting for a while. See how they work humor into their Twitter strategy.

You can also search Twitter’s “trending topics” to get ideas and insights into what people are talking about. Then you can try to put a relevant spin on that topic and tweet about it from your perspective. Just don’t forget the trending #hashtag to go along with it, otherwise it’ll fall on deaf ears…or blind eyes, rather. If you don’t see anything trending on Twitter that you feel you can relate to, head to Google Trends and look at what the greater society appears to care about in the moment. From there, you can brainstorm ways to start a Twitter conversation with your followers. Important Tip: Stay away from topics that are overly or specifically political or religious – even if they’re trending. This will avoid offending anyone with differing views or kick-starting a negative conversation. This will also help maintain a loyal following.

 

7. Call to Action.

This is one of the more simple tips, but also one of the more important. If you are using your tweets as a marketing tool, make sure that you include a ‘call to action’. You’re likely used to thinking this means a website button or purchase link. And while it may look a little different on Twitter, the concept is the same. Regardless of what you’re tweeting, you will to see engagement and responses if you’re asking the reader to do something. Maybe it means trying to get followers to sign up for something on your website. Or perhaps it means asking them to check out one of your recent blog posts by sharing a link. It can even be as simple as trying to get your followers to engage with you in a conversation – a reply, a retweet, a share, anything!

 

Experiment with your tweets to find out which ones work for you and your brand. Engage with your followers, leave room for retweets, and be funny (if you can). As you develop your “tweeting voice” you’ll eventually find success (even if it takes awhile). Have any questions? Comment in the section below or give one of our support agents a call. They’ll be able to guide you in the right direction.

Happy tweeting!

 

 

 

 

 

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