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?

This is indeed a test (of your followers). 

The pick of the bunch. 

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. 

There are plenty more, like this, this and this

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.

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.

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.

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.. 

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.

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.

Know your holidays...

...but don’t celebrate the pointless ones...

...unless you add some trivia

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.

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!

Nescafe USA likes to do this kind of thing often, like here, and here

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.

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. 

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.

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.

Catch celebrities

When they're in your midst, don't let them go. South West Air snaps some famous passengers here. The public just loves celebrities.

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.

That's it my friends. Go out there deep into the Twittersphere and make hay. And while you're at it, do follow me. ;-)

Ben Davis

Published 22 October, 2013 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (11)

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John Lancaster

Great article, we are just about to start up the whole social media world, so getting some ideas together. Thanks for your work!

over 4 years ago


Ben Hart

When Facebook bought Instagram, Twitter got a bit uppity and stopped it from appearing as a card (the feature that shows you the embedded image without having to click through). BUT, if you download IFTTT (IF This Then That), you can activate a "recipe" that will recognise when you Instagram something and automatically tweet it as a pic.twitter.com/

over 4 years ago

Ben Davis

Ben Davis, Editor at EconsultancyStaff


Top tip!

over 4 years ago


Vaishali Patel, EMEA Marketing Manager at Pubmatic

Great article - thank you!

over 4 years ago


Loren Nally, Sunny Day Marketing

Really useful tips for a social media novice like myself. I'd love to see more on this. Thanks.

over 4 years ago


Sarah Louise Dean

Hi Ben, this is an informative, interesting and full article but, as usual, it mainly deals with consumer goods and larger companies. I work with small businesses and this article might feel daunting to read, especially as SMEs won't have the budget/scope to use twitter promotions which all of these companies do have.

If your business relates to professional services or you're an owner without the cash to run and design campaign materials it is so much harder to develop a significant twitter presence. SMEs should not worry if they cannot use all of the functions above in the most creative way when they start out on twitter.

My points:

Red Bull is a multi-million-dollar corporation and should be used as aspirational in these circumstances and not as a minimum benchmark. Ditto the BFI, Stella, Artois and Adidas - they are all huge with a team of tweeters - many companies have only one member of staff controlling the company social spaces.

Sometimes attending a trade show is how small businesses network and tweeting directly to members can serve to make attendees feel included and indicate that the company is social savvy. After-event coverage can also work, but I don't think there's a problem with niche-tweeting as long as it is trailed beforehand and not a weekly occurrence.

There isn't anything about the importance of developing a voice, about regularity of tweeting or about using scheduling apps (like bufferapp.com which is very easy to use). I highly recommend considering these aspects.

Finally, I thought your curation section was brilliant. This is something that any brand can do - putting their product in context. It does, however, take time and skill to do this, but I loved all three of your examples.

over 4 years ago


Guy Mucklow, Senior Web Designer at PCA Predict (formerly Postcode Anywhere)

Great article Ben, I would be very interested to read the b2b version!

over 4 years ago

Ben Davis

Ben Davis, Editor at EconsultancyStaff


I agree with this:

"There isn't anything about the importance of developing a voice, about regularity of tweeting or about using scheduling apps (like bufferapp.com which is very easy to use). I highly recommend considering these aspects."

I was a little lazy and took good copywriter with intimate knowledge of brand as a given.

BUT I disagree that Twitter isn't a level playing field. There are plenty without a budget doing well, and as far as I can see, it's only promoting tweets that might be beyond your budget.

Vine, YouTube, iPhones, WordPress - all great democratizers. Time is now the only consideration (granted, it costs money).

Thanks for reading!

over 4 years ago


Jacky York, Consultant at Jacky York Marketing

Lots of good tips and ideas. I'm with @sarah though re SMEs and also B2B sectors.

Time is the key factor for SMEs with social media, then skill and understanding.

But then Social Media, is no different to any other marketing tool/comms platform in that you have to use it as appropriate to your business and your customers. So have a look at what the big boys and girls are doing and see if you can adapt and make it work for your needs

over 4 years ago


Ali Moghadam

Hey Ben,

Totally agree with that - budget means very little, in my opinion. Some of the very best content I've seen is serendipitous, completely free and immensely enjoyable to boot. You don't need a budget for content creation, you need imagination. Imagination trumps money every time.

But the reach you can get from it will start off really small without a budget to kick it off. If you stick at it and your awesomeness is consistent, it'll grow.

I'm personally not too taken with automating social activity. It leads to too many problems. There is absolutely no soul in it, you can't be responsive, you can't be real. Sure it can be a time saver, but a second screen can keep you in the loop at all times.

I'm not saying everyone can do it or afford a full time social media exec, but people make it happen. You can't automate stuff and expect to be good.

over 4 years ago

Ben Davis

Ben Davis, Editor at EconsultancyStaff


Agree wholeheartedly, but agree it's a logarithmic growth. Starting painfully slowly, so much so it feels pointless on day dot.

We couldn't manage without Hootsuite to listen (simple brand mentions) and to schedule (we need a break sometimes).


over 4 years ago

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