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I’ve touched upon this subject before but thought I’d compile a post specifically aimed at bloggers / writers / content creators.
Many brands are investing in content like never before. They use blogs and social networks to attract traffic, and to encourage people to share their posts.
So what do they need to think about to try to increase the amount of sharing on Twitter?
The art of timing your tweets is one of the most important factors in driving retweets.
Tweet at the right times
This is probably the most important point. There’s no point pushing out tweets when your followers aren’t tuned in to Twitter.
I used to think it was spammy to post the same tweet twice, albeit at different times of the day. Now, for brands with a global audience, and for bloggers, I consider it good practice.
It may make sense to share content more than once to appeal to people in different territories. Your followers won’t mind so long as you space out the tweets (we typically wait seven or eight hours, to hit new timezones at peak times).
The alternative, for brands / bloggers with an international presence, is to create specific Twitter accounts for specific territories (something I’ll explore in more detail soon).
Avoid publishing tweets in batch
You should always try to leave enough space between your tweets. Publishing three tweets in the space of a minute isn’t a good idea (even your most ardent follower might think twice before sharing three of your tweets in quick succession). Use the Buffer app to stagger your tweets.
It goes without saying that the key to success is to produce compelling content, but what exactly do we mean by that? What actually works?
Be useful / helpful / informative
Readers are likely to share a blog post if it has helped them in some way. They’ll also be more inclined to remember you / your brand, and some of them will become new followers.
Entertainment-orientated posts are good too, especially on Friday afternoons when the brain is shutting down for the weekend (although this, for us, isn’t a peak time for Twitter activity).
Fill the gaps
It is always a good idea to consider the uniqueness of your content. A quick scan around on Google is normally enough, though I’ve also found Twitter Search to be helpful in seeing what’s out there.
If there are similar posts then figure out how to position yours so it is different enough from the rest, to encourage sharing beyond your own network.
It’s really important to point readers at other articles that you have published in the past. If they read two articles, rather than one, then you’re doubling the chances of a retweet (as well as reducing your bounce rates / increasing your page impressions).
Internal linking is great for SEO too. People will share (interesting / useful / entertaining) content regardless of how they find it.
Understand the value of in-depth content
We’ve found that news stories have high bounce rates, while meatier posts are much stickier and have a longer shelf life. They attract the highest number of retweets, while also driving readers deeper into our site.
Write fast, edit slow
There is a link between the time spent crafting a post and the amount of retweets it will generate. I believe in the write fast, edit slow mantra: try to crank out 80% of a blog post in 20% of the time, and then spend the other 80% of your time finessing the post, finding examples and reference material, backing up posts with stats, hunting for internal links, and generally tidying things up.
People love to skim read, and – partly because of that - they love lists. Last year a large proportion of our most popular (and most shared) content was list-based. And here I am, writing another list…
It is all too easy to write an article, publish it, and then head out for lunch. Given that thousands of people may read it I think it’s really important to check and doublecheck your work. And then check it some more.
I typically edit an article at least half a dozen times after it has been published. I’m primarily concerned with grammar and formatting, but it goes without saying that your facts must be watertight. You don’t want people to share your post on the basis that it is inaccurate, ridiculous or embarrassing.
Check out my 23 useful rules for online writing, for more pointers.
Linkbait, socialbait, hatebait, statbait… there are plenty of types of ‘bait’ to use in order to attract people to your website. Try to avoid baiting people just for the sake of it, as it can produce a negative reaction.
Learn the 12 sharing triggers
Last year I wrote a post that outlined why people share videos. Videos can be filed under triggers such as ‘shocking’, ‘unbelievable’, ‘controversial’ and ‘uplifting’. These triggers apply to other forms of content too. Tick one or more boxes to increase your chances of success.
Headlines are hugely important...
Witty vs descriptive?
Descriptive headlines work best for search, but I am increasingly of the view that unorthodox headlines stand out from the crowd on the social platforms like Twitter (much in the same way that they used to stand out on Google News). A headline that possesses verve should generate a higher clickthrough rate than one that looks flat.
We know that social media platforms are increasingly affecting the search results so there may be more to life than writing headlines purely for Google. I recently explored ways in which Google might make sense of social signals on Twitter.
The ‘65 character rule’
I always try to abide by the 65 character rule when writing headlines. The idea is to leave enough space for people to append a tweet with their own comments.
It is a very good idea to use adjectives in headlines. They’re persuasive and can give your headline a distinct tone of voice.
They are also great for retweets, as sometimes it appears as if the retweeter has inserted the adjective into the headline (sometimes they do, if you omit them). Powerful.
These can really help to kickstart a debate and / or provide some much needed answers (which can form the basis of new posts). Questions can be great for search too, as many people use them as search queries.
Use the right labels
Consider what search queries people are using before determining what headline to use. Google Trends can help you with this.
For example, we can see that people have been searching for the term ‘cookie law’ in the past year, even though the EU e-Privacy Directive is a much broader ‘privacy law’ (cookies are only part of the story).
As such we’ve used ‘cookie law’ as a label, for blog posts and reports on this subject.
There's more to life than endlessly talking about yourself on Twitter...
Building out your network is one thing, but the degree to which people will take notice of you is likely to be dependent not only on the quality of the content you create, but also on whether you are an active member of Twitter.
Do you answer questions? Do you involve yourself in conversations? Or is Twitter simply a way of pushing out links?
We know what makes people tune out on Twitter… think about what makes them tune in. Advocacy leads to sharing.
Share other people’s content
This is a good way of getting noticed, especially by influencers who may return the favour. Mix it up: don’t just talk about yourself.
Monitor what people say in their retweets. I’m not so bothered about the quantity of retweets, but I do care about the quality.
If you are consistently seeing “rubbish post” appended to retweets, rather than “great post”, then consider tweaking your content strategy, to create the right kind of content for your audience.
What did I miss? What other tips do you have to drive retweets on Twitter? Do let us know in the comments section below...