I like to think I've seen a lot of tweets, enough to know a good one when I see it.
So often, I am completely exasperated looking at the dadaist sludge that dribbles out of corporate and brand Twitter accounts. So I've decided to do something about it and write this complete guide to writing interesting tweets.
It's somewhat subjective, but I've given at least 60 tweets here to illustrate my various points. I'll define interesting as something funny/persuasive/compelling/thought-provoking/informative etc - pretty much any tweet that can draw the user's attention.
There is a lot of 'don't' as well as a lot of 'do', and of course, knowing your brand and your audience is key to interesting your followers.
Hopefully there'll be some scenarios you recognise in here, and some reminders.
Please leave your pet hates and great loves in the comments below.
Learn how Twitter works. A pretty big one, this.
Verizon Support, I may have drastically misunderstood you. All I know is this is what I have seen on your Twitter account, and it flummoxes me incontrovertibly.
Who is this for?
Sure! Please Dm us when you are ready and we can bridge you. ^MBP— Verizon Support (@VerizonSupport) October 19, 2013
This is indeed a test (of your followers).
Please assist @drakovian51 this is a test. -Bert— Verizon Support (@VerizonSupport) September 28, 2013
The pick of the bunch.
Hi Mr. Reese! Did someone contact you about the tree branches left in the alley? Let us know when you get the chance. Thank you!! ^Amera— Verizon Support (@VerizonSupport) July 22, 2013
And is this an attempt to have the community solve a user's problems? Some do this well - GiffGaff, Sky etc - but you have to have a structure in place.
Please reach out to @hannah_bee1 she can't send texts or call anyone.— Verizon Support (@VerizonSupport) July 16, 2013
And remember, if you retweet a complaint like below and then @reply the user, your audience will see the retweet but not the @reply. So it looks like you’re randomly retweeting your critics in some dadaist display of defiance.
no Internet wtf fios— jdb♡ (@mlieycakes) August 28, 2013
Don’t do really boring product-based challenges and competitions
Samsung: This wouldn’t even work with a Macbook. The good things about computers are what they enable, not the device per se.
Yes, fetishism works in adverts, but nobody wants to do a jigsaw puzzle of a laptop. Seriously?
Tease your followers
You can afford to be cryptic when introducing your best content. Twitter enjoys a good tease.
Messing about on the beach. In cars and planes… http://t.co/MxdxnOF5xX— Red Bull (@redbull) October 21, 2013
But you can't be cryptic, or light on information, from a prosaic account. It just doesn't intrigue us. This Microsoft Support tweet should let you know this is a short customer survey, and then perhaps offer an incentive.
Microsoft wants to hear from you! - http://t.co/ktVdqqC7zM— Microsoft Support (@MicrosoftHelps) October 1, 2013
Don’t ask generic brand questions. It sounds like you’re up your own chalice.
Stella Artois gives a great example of the boring brand question here..
What would you do for a #StellaArtois?— Stella Artois (@StellaArtois) October 12, 2013
This is better. Umbro, granted, does have a very emotive and fun topic of football to work with, but it still understands it has to explore the subject area, not just the brand.
It's inspired the question, what's the most unusual piece of football memorabilia you've ever owned?— Umbro (@umbro) September 11, 2013
And lo and behold, Umbro got some great responses, such as this:
Don't be weird. This is weird.
Don’t be weird. I know that's not the best advice, but look at this from Samsung. Why stress is relevant, I'm not sure.
Why we should be taking it out on a Samsung stress ball, I don't know. Doesn't give the best impression of the company culture, however trivial the tweet.
[PHOTO] How do you relieve stress? pic.twitter.com/MlCudnFywC— Samsung USA (@Samsungtweets) October 20, 2013
Know your holidays...
Happy Eid al-Adha! pic.twitter.com/dzObgBBQ0B— Best Buy (@BestBuy) October 14, 2013
...but don’t celebrate the pointless ones...
Bust out those pearly whites—it's World Smile Day! pic.twitter.com/mgKwfsmwJb— Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) October 4, 2013
...unless you add some trivia
Happy Smile Day! Did you know that Charlie Chaplin composed the music for the iconic Smile song? pic.twitter.com/8XMOCcOQXx— BFI (@BFI) October 4, 2013
Careful how you edit to 140
Not sure if you agree, but it's often hard to get important messages into a tweet. It can be tempting to crowbar the message in by missing the odd word here and there.
Microsoft support does it here, and I think the whole tweet, and the phrase 'working to resolve ASAP' sounds a bit fevered, a bit seat-of-the-pants, and like perhaps Microsoft isn't in control? Take your time and be grammatically correct.
Windows RT 8.1 update temporarily removed from Windows Store. Situation affecting small number of users. Working to resolve ASAP.— Microsoft Support (@MicrosoftHelps) October 19, 2013
Mine your history
Simple enough here. We're all interested in time and change, and your fans and followers will be particularly interested to see how you have changed as they have. We all love nostalgia.
Social media managers: no matter how strict your brand guidelines, you have a voice, break free from coffee!
I don't want to forever point at what not to do, but Nescafe USA shows how being too product-centric appears infantile. Isn't that right coffee-loving family!
Thanks for being part of our #coffee-loving twitter family! We heart you.— NescafeUSA (@NescafeUSA) October 20, 2013
This is social media, don't be afraid to trend jack
That's right, whether it's Miley Cyrus - I salute you, Nokia - or 3D printing, kudos to Ford.
Embed your media
I couldn’t be bothered with clicking through from this link in Adidas's tweet on desktop, let alone mobile. The load speed was too slow, and I want content in my Twitter window.
Gap embeds its new video so why can’t Adidas embed a pic? Social is not about driving people to your microsites.
This should also be a consideration when using Instagram. If your following is mainly on Twitter, Instagram's non-embedding is a nuisance.
Enjoy a bit of hot vine action
Some beautiful examples here from Home Depot, Dairy Queen, Umbro and UPS.
Know that your product might not fit with meaningless motivational twiddle
OK, it's social media, so empty motivational aphorisms do have their place, but teamed up with hard spirits there's something that rings gladiatorial and dangerous in this Bacardi tweet.
Drink responsibly everyone.
When you make bold choices, the sky is the limit. pic.twitter.com/8nrpNEDr4H— BACARDI (@BACARDI) October 18, 2013
Look out for media mentions
Great work again by Home Depot, tweeting this Onion article, which is legitamately funny and portrays the Home Depot brand as the de facto number one DIY chain in the US.
Listening for these mentions is social media 101.
Some of your creds are interesting
Blabbing on about brand values gets boring quickly. But, consumers like green credentials, something which Ford capitalises on. It's a no-brainer.
Ford and renewable energy through the years: pic.twitter.com/kQB76TqZLl— Ford Motor Company (@Ford) October 11, 2013
Ford Motor Company has collaborated with industry leaders, past and present. See more: pic.twitter.com/uOexVi3T8T— Ford Motor Company (@Ford) October 4, 2013
Use your tie-ups
This should be second nature. You've got all those expensive sponsorships, so blimmin' use them and tweet about all your stars. Adidas does it right here, celebrating Wilson Kipsang's recent marathon world record.
Create something hashtag-worthy, but bear in mind it should be accessible
Here's a cheeky little example from Sony Electronics. The hashtag is great, #actioncamselfie, but how many followers do extreme sport? How many have a suitable camera?
And the prize is an action camera, but one needs an action camera to take these pics. Catch 22?
Well, I'm probably taking it all literally, and I quite like this hashtag, but perhaps making clear that users can be irreverant or work outside the brief would help.
Make the most of your best blog content
Logitech does it well, referencing this blog post, below. Gives a break from some brands that simply push products and ask inane questions. It's basically content marketing 101.
Gaming Myth #2: Blowing into those game cartridges? Does. Not. Work. http://t.co/66wj2k3MPl— Logitech (@Logitech) October 20, 2013
You can’t avoid irony, but keep an eye out for the big ones
Google is too big to need to worry about this, and that's why it can get away with the tweet below in the wake of the NSA revelations.
But you are not Google (unless you are) and you need to confront reality but also not pull it on top of you. Here at Econsultancy we talk a lot about mobile optimisation, but our own site is not yet optimised for mobile (happening as we speak), so we're aware of this problem.
The solution is to be completely honest when the topic arises.
When they're in your midst, don't let them go. South West Air snaps some famous passengers here. The public just loves celebrities.
We think of ourselves as a "Modern Family" and are excited for tonight's premiere! What shows are you happy are back? pic.twitter.com/z3QhgtA2Fu— Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) September 25, 2013
Work with your e-commerce team to offer quirky gamified discounts
Everyone loves offers. Appear all hip with an offer based on some real life event that's out of your control. It's sort of like the 'spin the drinks wheel' in old nightclubs.
Here Crocs does it well.
Slip in an email sign-up. It’s ok, people like knowing about stuff
Beware stock brand photographs
I have to criticise Stella Artois again, much as it pains me. We all know what a pint looks like. We don't need to look at it continually.
Stella tweets lots of pictures like the below. There's nothing as disappointing as clicking 'view photo' and seeing something boring like a stock photo.
Your profile page can be cool
Take a leaf out of Red Bull's book and put something suitably grand on your Twitter page. It's much more fun than a picture of a KitKat, or a helpline number (though I like both).
Remember not everyone is at your conference
A niche one here but symptomatic of brands that don't understand Twitter. Say you're a social media manager and you have the keys to the brand Twitter account.
You're at an event and you decide to tweet four times using the conference hashtag. All of your audience is bored by these four tweets and doesn't understand them. Here's an example from Chevrolet.
Curation, curation, curation
Simply one of the most important points. You are not a genius, you can't come up with gold all the time, you're not Matt Owen (Econsultancy Head of Social), so use other people's delicious content.
Guess what, they'll be pleased, too. Win-win! Here's Banana Republic, Umbro and Expedia doing some curation.
Classic Umbro WBA shirt from the 1930s featured in this great gallery: http://t.co/XlZ3rrbmnV— Umbro (@umbro) October 3, 2013