Category Archives: Tweet Writing

How To Tweet To Lots of People And Not Get Suspended

If you tweet to people that don’t follow you, and they decide to mark you as spam, your Twitter account could be suspended for “sending multiple unsolicited mentions to other users.”

In this post I’m going to tell you how you can talk to lots of folks on Twitter and avoid being suspended for multiple unsolicited mentions.

But: this doesn’t protect you if you violate the Twitter rules, break the following best practices, or go against Twitter’s automation rules. Tweet smarter, people! If you don’t know the rules and best practices click and read the links earlier in this paragraph.

First, Understand How Twitter is Trying To Protect Us From Spammers

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It’s simple really:  Twitter is trying to protect us from strangers sending us tweets we don’t want. And who are strangers? They are people we have no relationship with.

So ask yourself: On Twitter, how can you tell two people have a relationship? Any one of these ways count:

  1. We’ve been faving or retweeting each others’ tweets, or adding each other to Twitter lists;
  2. We follow each other;
  3. We’ve had past conversations;
  4. You’re current tweet is a reply to a tweet from me.

The Secret

I’m amazed that more people don’t see the obvious that is staring them in the face. I get questions all the time from businesses saying “I want to sell things to people in my tweets, but they mark me as spam and I get suspended. What can I do?”

If you’re one of those people who think it’s not efficient to spend time with people before trying to sell them something, even though you should go home and re-think your life (see video below), I’m going to help you with an efficient solution to your problem.

While I’m going to give a very quick process, hopefully I’ll actually be able to convert you to building relationships instead of just trying to trick people into accepting spam from you.

35 Extra Seconds Starts A Relationships

Here’s the minimum you should do before sending someone a sales tweet. First, have Twitter advanced search and Favstar.fm open to speed things up.

Use Twitter advanced search to find tweets from people that might be interested in your product or service. This you would have to do anyway, so I’m not counting this against your extra time investment ;-)

  1. 5 Seconds: Click to open their bio and review quickly. If they seem unsuitable, skip them. If there is a link in their bio that seems interesting, click and check it out. (Not strictly necessary, but I always do this when I meet someone new.)
  2. 5 Seconds: Use the steps in http://bit.ly/LinkToATweet to go to the page for the tweet that shows their interest. Bookmark it (use Ctrl-D for speed) so you can come back to it later.
  3. 5 Seconds: Follow them and add them to a Twitter list (here’s how to do that) called “Interesting People.” Yes, you could call it “prospects” or whatever makes sense for you, and make it a private Twitter list, but the public list approach is better.
  4. 10 Seconds: Copy their username, Go to Favstar.fm, click the “Choose User” link at the top, paste in their username, and press enter.
  5. 10 Seconds: You are now looking at that user’s most popular tweets. Do one or more of the following steps: Fav one or more that you like. If you really like one, retweet it. Finally, consider replying to any of their tweets. (You might want to also review their most recent tweets on Twitter.)

Wait at least a few hours (days are better) to see who tweets to you. Some will thank you for the fav or RT or follow. Next, go back through the tweets you bookmarked in your browser. They will indicate who has followed you back. Tweet your friendly, helpful carefully worded sales pitch to the ones that tweeted you, or followed you back. (I’m not counting this against your time investment because you would have done that anyway.)

A Better Way

Hopefully by following this process you’ll have found some interesting people that you really want to connect with, and will have actually spent more time with them, such as by reading their recent tweets, and reviewing their blog or website and commenting on it.

Spending time creating relationships with people that are interesting to you will make you much, much more successful than any other approach on social media. That’s why we call it social media.

Even better is to create some educational articles and videos that can help people who are looking for a product or service like yours. Then when you find someone in the market for what you offer, instead of sending them a sales pitch, tweet them a helpful comment and a link to your relevant educational information.

Summary

I wrote this so I would have a reply to people who just want to send spam without being suspended. If you’re one of those people, I hope you are considering spending more than just a few seconds building relationships with people. If you want to be really successful on social media, learn how to become popular with influential users.

If you’re like me, and not  just looking for a more efficient way to spam people, we both know that you don’t build real relationships in just a few seconds, but I hope you will have found some tips to get your new connections on Twitter off to a faster start!

One Amazing, Easy Trick For Writing Great Tweets

Whether you’re writing a post or linking to someone else’s, finding the most compelling point about the topic is critical.

The most compelling point is what you need to put in the tweet, and if you’re the writer, it belongs in the headline of your post.

Fortunately, there’s a phenomenon that most writers are unaware of that can lead you right to the most compelling point!

Writers—probably yourself included—naturally find the most compelling way to make their point only after they’ve warmed up.

How To Find The Most Compelling Statement

For most of us, all we need to do is start writing the best we can whatever occurs to us, then wait until around the third paragraph or so. You’ll see this phenomenon on tons of blogs. There, partway down the page, is the main point, or the most compelling statement. Which should have been the headline!

If you’re the writer, sometimes it’s as simple as throwing out whatever you wrote first and starting with the third paragraph (approximately).

The second most common place to find this statement is in the last paragraph, often in the final sentence.

If you’re reading something by a very experienced writer who has fallen into this trap, you’ll most often find the point that should be their headline in the first or second sentence. (So close!)

How To Take Advantage Of This Phenomenon

In your own writing, find out what your habit is—where you typically being to “hit your stride,” and expect it. Use it! Just start writing as best as you know how and then watch for your key point to come out.

When sharing someone else’s writing in a tweet, Facebook update or elsewhere, watch for the most compelling point to come out as the writer gets warmed up. If you don’t see it in the first few paragraphs, skip to the end and look for it there. You’ll be amazed at how many writers follow a predictable pattern of overlooking their best writing.

Then don’t use their headline in your tweet or share; use the most compelling point instead after you’ve unearthed it.

Main Point or “Most Compelling” Point?

It’s often easy to logically tell yourself what the main point of what you’re writing is. But that isn’t necessarily the most interesting and compelling point to the reader.

Sometimes it’s how you come up with a turn of phrase. Or make your point in the simplest, clearest way. There can be something magic about writing, and what comes out only after you’ve begun. Don’t rely on preconceptions. Let the creative act of writing take you places you didn’t expect. In fact, expect it! Experienced writers are very familiar with this phenomenon.

How to Outline When You’re The Writer

Writer and bloggers who have to produce a lot of content often find that outlining is their best friend. It’s the fastest route to producing lots of good content.

To get your best point into your outline, try this simple trick:

Start outlining as you would normally, and somewhere when you’re near halfway done, simply start writing. Do your best, try to make your key points compellingly and quickly. But keep writing and see if takes you somewhere. It probably will lead you to a point or way of saying something that’s a little different than you expected.

If this leads you to a more compelling way to make your point—and it often will—go back to your outline. Adjust it with what you’ve learned, then fill it in as you normally do.

This simple trick is worth it. It takes only a bit longer than than the approach of outlining then filling it, but it can bring much of your writing up to a new level that you wouldn’t have found otherwise.

What’s Your Experience?

Over some days or weeks, look for this phenomenon. Let me know what you find! You’ll see most writers follow a very predictable pattern.

Infographic: What to Tweet—Are YOUR Tweets Worth Reading?

The authors of an academic paper covered by the Harvard Business Review asked respondents to rate 43,000 tweets as either:

  1. Worth Reading
  2. Not Worth Reading
  3. Just OK

The overall results:

The authors pointed out that

“…results suggest that users tolerate a large amount of less-desired content in their feeds. We find that users value information sharing and random thoughts above me-oriented or presence updates.”

Here’s an edited version of their original infographic summarizing the results (sample tweets are real, but users have been changed):

HT Marketing Savant

How Tweets Can Be a Very UNfunny Version of “Who’s on First?”

It can be hard to have a conversation just through tweets. Sometimes it reminds of that classic vaudeville skit “Who’s on First?”

Recently I wrote some blog posts to provide folks with questions on a topic a forum to provide more details, but many chose to only communicate via tweets.

One gentleman, Dr. Jason B. Whitman, National Republican Policy Chairman, Young Republican National Federation, was very easy to talk to, even though the topic was very politically charged, and said fairly early on that he disagreed with me.

Since I’m kind of agnostic politically, you might have thought the communication would be contentious, but we each clarified our thoughts to each other a few times, and ended up understanding each other quite well, and found quite a lot of agreement.

Another person was not so easy to communicate with. Here’s a (fake) conversation that would be an analogy of our attempt at communicating by tweets:

  • Him: The car was towed
  • Me: Which car?
  • Him: I’m giving you the information you asked for: The car was towed
  • Me: Yes, I get that the car was towed, but which car is being referred to?
  • Him: This is a direct quote from the source: “The car was towed.”
  • Me: Perhaps if you could share some more of what the source said, I could understand better.
  • Him: I can’t share more than that, for privacy reasons.
  • Me: I understand! That’s a very good reason. I’ll settle for not understanding very clearly, then.
  • Him: You’re not making sense. I’m telling you straight from the source, this  is how it is: the car was towed.
  • Me: Yes, that makes sense to a point, but what I don’t know is which car was towed.
  • Him: Just so you know, you’re not talking to me anymore, you’re talking to the source.
  • Me: You’re not the source.
  • Him: Your argument is with what source said.
    INOT them exactlyso report it straight with no “conjecture.
  • Me, to myself: Nope, I’m not going to repeat the question again. Must…not…repeat.

Obviously, we got frustrated near the end :-) …and for his part, I don’t blame him! Tweets can be a really tough way to clarify tricky topics. There were probably three times the number of tweets I’ve shown here, so if you want to take me to task in the comments, feel free. I’d be glad to clarify. I still don’t have an answer to my question.

How Can You Make Things Clearer?

Here are a few tips that I find myself returning to.

  1. First, of course, if you can switch to email or phone or a forum such a blog commenting, it can help. Gives you more room to clarify. But some people resist that.
  2. One thing I do sometimes is to try to restate things from the other person’s point of view. (In this particular case, I tried writing my third blog post somewhat in that way.)
  3. Another tip is to be sociable. When they’re right, say “You’re right!” or “I agree.” Don’t leave agreement unstated. Similarly, if they’re doing something you appreciate, say so.
  4. I also like to point out where I’m giving opinion versus fact. Generally, because even though if I’m stating facts my opinion is still in there somewhere, I try to point that out. Don’t try to be the expert with all the answers.
  5. If someone gets really annoyed, I’ll go back through the conversation to see where I could have been clearer, or could have understood better or quicker. Then I’ll apologize and try to do better.
  6. If someone doesn’t seem to understand a question, I’ll drop it or approach from as different an angle as I can think of. Repeating the question (as you can see from the above) doesn’t work too well. I actually tried some different topics but we kept coming back to the one that caused confusion.
  7. Decide what you really want from the conversation. If what it has turned into doesn’t really serve any purpose, drop it, say the most gracious words you can about the person, and indicate that you’ll have to leave the conversation for awhile.

One simple trick to writing more popular tweets

By testing, I’ve learned that the better a tweet sounds when starting with “Reminder: ” the more popular it is likely to be.

Tweets written to seem urgent, timely or containing critical reference information do better than those that don’t.

How to use this to write better tweets

Just at the editing stage, try starting your tweets with “Reminder: ” (remove “reminder” before tweeting). The better your tweet sounds with “reminder” in front, the better it is likely to do.

Let’s take a basic tweet such as “Five tools for being more efficient on Twitter:” and try some rewrites:

  1. Want to be more efficient on Twitter? Learn these five tools: (Uses Question + List)
  2. Five key tools you must know to be more efficient on Twitter: (Uses List + “must know” + “key”)
  3. Five top tools experts use to be more efficient on Twitter: (Uses List + “top” and “experts”)
  4. New information on which tools help you be more efficient on Twitter: (Uses “New information”)

Notice how the last one seems to work well, even though it doesn’t have the catchy phrases? (No longer a question, not a list, didn’t use either “key,” “must know,” “top” or “experts.”)

How I learned this

If something we’ve tweeted becomes popular, we sometimes tweet about it again several hours later. Sometimes we preface the repeated tweet with “#Reminder—” What I’ve learned is that almost every popular tweet we have fits well with “reminder” at the beginning.

Looking closer, I realized that this was often true not only for clicks, but also for retweets. This is interesting, because certain kinds of writing can improve clicks, but not retweets. The logic is that the tweet gets to you click, but the post itself has to be worthy before it gets a lot of retweets.

So this means that the tweet itself is possibly changing how people feel about the information, even after they read it, helping it to get retweets, not just clicks.

Shocking discovery for writing shorter tweets

Really: this actually shocked me.

Suddenly I started writing shorter tweets without even trying to! Editing to make things clearer and shorter has been a hobby of mine since I was young—of course I love writing tweets!

So, how could this happen?

I began using a different interface to write tweets on. It was narrower, so 140 characters takes up most of four rows of text, instead of just two rows like the tweet box at Twitter.com does. And somehow, autoMAGICally, I began writing shorter tweets.

Ever get that “too long” feeling as you’re writing a tweet? Of course you do. Everyone who tweets knows the feeling.

But now, I get that “too long” feeling immediately. It’s because my writing now flows over three and four lines due to this new interface. I didn’t realize that it subconsciously made me edit and shorten my writing sooner than I used to. It was weird. And cool!

It took me a few days to realize this was happening. I had this strange feeling of freedom that had been building. I always seemed to have characters left over when tweeting. Now I’m trying to figure out how to use the principle for writing blog posts, too :)

This probably won’t work for everyone. If you don’t already use an interface that’s narrower, and you want to experiment, try this: Press the “Enter” key on your keyboard about in the middle of every line you tweet. In other words, don’t let the text of your sentence run to the right edge of your tweet box.

What interface made my tweets shorter? It’s a tool that will get you more clicks and retweets—so you should definitely try it! But I’m not using it in the way that most people do, so it might not work to shorten your tweets. (You can read all about how I use it here.)

What are your “how to write shorter tweets” tips? I’d love it if you’d leave a comment!

Why The #$%& You Should Tone Down Your Language

If you’re driving people away who want to hear your message, you’re making a mistake. You’re losing followers and readers.

Virtually every day I read an otherwise interesting blog post about Twitter that goes overboard with foul language.

Quick tip: If you don’t use foul language in the headline or the tweet about your blog post, you probably shouldn’t use it much in your blog post either.

I get it—you think “I’m an adult, writing for adults. This is the way I like to talk.” Yes, people can just unfollow you or not read what you write if they don’t like it. But from where I sit, your language is pointless. All it does is drive people away. Yes, I think you should be unique, and your language is certainly part of that.

I’m not saying you can’t be an angry, crazy writer sometimes. It’s the same with your tweets. Go ahead and rant your heart out…sometimes. But if you use foul language and offensive examples to color everything you say, it loses its impact.

What standards should you apply?

In four years I’ve probably skipped tweeting dozens of posts that were otherwise fun or interesting and well-written because of a writer’s out-of-control language or attitude. One standard I’ve applied is that if several people are upset with me for sharing something, it’s over the line.

It’s upsetting when I find someone with a lot to say has written something that is just so relentlessly, gratuitously foul-mouthed. If you’re angry, if you’re ranting, if you’re talking about something upsetting, I get it. But with some people everything is just f**k this and f**k that. If they feel it’s self-expression or therapy, then fine. But don’t expect me to invite everyone in to listen.

If you’re ever thought about toning it down, what could be the worst thing that could happen?

More of us will take the time to listen to the great things you have to say.

Twitter only pretends to give you more characters sometimes :(

UPDATE: I’ve corrected some misinformation in the original post. Thanks to @WebTrawler for pointing it out. I should have known better. Twitter long ago announced they were going to do it this way, but they changed how things displayed, and it fooled me! My apologies.

Most tweets with links will be shorter/get more characters

Most URLs will be shortened in such a way that you get more characters than 140 for what you type. But some will not, because Twitter isn’t actually counting what you see. Here’s what’s happened:

As part of Twitter’s new automatic link shortening service (on #NewTwitter), it will often remove the http:// from your links and still show the result as a clickable hyperlink. So, for example

This means that any tweet with a link tweeted from Twitter.com (and eventually, elsewhere) seems to save 7 characters by removing the “http://”

What really happens

But actually, Twitter does NOT count what you see. It converts all URLs to t.co URLs even if it shows you something else. And Twitter counts the length of the t.co URL, regardless of what is displayed!

So http://j.mp/123456 (19 characters) is displayed as j.mp/123456 (12 characters, appearing to save seven characters) but is counted as http://t.co/Xh8YoOk (20 characters) so you actually lose 1 character.

Who saves the most?

So if you’re using a non-shortened URL (such as http://blog.tweetsmarter.com/) the new URL shortening will save you a lot of characters. But if you’re already using a shortened URL, it’s going to make very little difference, and could end up costing you characters, rather than saving you characters.

Why does Twitter do this?

Twitter tests all URLs as part of converting them to t.co links in order to try to ferret out malware. In other words, they’re doing it to protect Twitter users—which is a good thing. I would expect that many Twitter clients will also provide this shortening/protecting feature to their users eventually.

What makes a tweet great?

A great tweet gets:

  1. (R)etweeted (even possibly becoming a TT—trending topic).
  2. (C)licks on its link.
  3. (E)ngagement, including comments and replies (or a response from a specific user)
  4. (F)avorited

This list of results can be abbreviated “RCEF.” I’m going to give a brief overview of how to write tweets differently to do better for each of the four goals of RCEF.

But before we get to that, you might want to try to find the best time to tweet it, or consider repeating the tweet, or read up on the simplest tip for writing a great tweet about a blog post. Ready? Let’s begin!

1a. Getting Retweets

Tweets with links generally get more retweets than those without, except in the case of quotes and statements, where it doesn’t matter (much). Also, anything that makes a tweet get a lot of clicks, favorites or comments/engagement will influence retweets. The six types of tweets that get the most retweets are:

  1. Warnings and alerts (“Twitter virus spreading”)
  2. Quotes or statements (“You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality.” ~Ayn Rand” and a statement “Content is NOT King; Relationships are King: http://bit.ly/i4rOwm“)
  3. Breaking news
  4. Links to fun, relevant engagement (“Quiz: How addicted to Twitter are you? http://bit.ly/fsIUBT” also such things as “Would you pass the Twitter test? http://bit.ly/hgMaTX” and polls.)
  5. Information summaries (“4 C’s to help you make the most of Twitter ►Content ►Character ►Conversation ►Community: http://bit.ly/h9h5r8“), most commonly key stats (“1 in 4 Twitter users earns more than 75,000 [Infographic] http://bit.ly/glxpCm“)
  6. Key topic warnings, “secrets,” dangers, etc. (“Did you know you can be suspended for failing to retweet properly?http://bit.ly/emy7TX” and tweets such as “Top 10 Tips to Avoid Getting Unfollowed or Blocked on Twitter: http://bit.ly/iauRyI“)
  7. Resource summaries. For example a list of useful/new/clever/etc. Twitter tools.

When you write a tweet, you can often angle it to fit into one or more of the key types. Some examples,:

  • A statement and an information summary, with a link— A great tweeter is ►Honest ►Interesting ►Smart with humor ►Relaxed ►A people person ►Caring: http://bit.ly/fAEYNK
  • A downtime alert and a resource summary, with a link— While Hootsuite is down, 5 other Tools to Schedule Tweets: http://bit.ly/hJINLj

1b. Becoming a Trending Topic (TT)

To be the first one that tweets about something that become a TT, you need to get a very popular user or community to begin retweeting you for this to stand a chance, and you need to do it at a time there is not a lot of other competition on the Trending Topics page. To do this, start by using Twitter to get influential people to help you.

2. Getting Lots of Clicks (Blog Visitors/Media Viewers)

Traditional headline writing guidelines apply here. Also, viral media tweets (that include a link to a catchily-described picture or video or cartoon) get a lot of clicks.

3a. Getting Lots of Comments on Your Blog

Use methods for getting clicks or retweets, but apply them specifically to getting comments. Meaning don’t just add “please comment” to a tweet, make the point of the tweet to ask for a comment, using one of the writing methods that get results. Also, posts that already have comments get more comments, so work towards getting initial comments, and encourage people to read them. (For example, some folks trade writing first comments on new posts with a group of friends.) For example:

  1. Poor: “The Twitter curse is affecting my marriage. Please comment.”
  2. Better: “Can this marriage be saved from the Twitter curse? What do you think?”
  3. Good: “Help! I need advice—how do YOU think this marriage can be saved from the Twitter curse? Please read comments!”

3b. Getting lots of Response Tweets (Engagement)

The simplest techniques are to ask a question, make a controversial statement, or add “what do you think?” to virtually any tweet. But to get a lot responses, you need to respond to people yourself over time to build a reputation for being engaging. The minimum standard for engagement is to respond in some way to as many people as you can. This means if three people make a similar funny comment, you need to at least reply with something such as “@user1 @user2 @user3 lol!”

3c. Getting Replies from Key Users

You need to build a relationship in order to get a response . See Win Friends And Influence People On Twitter In Just 5 Seconds A Day for relevant tips.

4. Getting on the Favorite Leaderboard

Favstar.fm is now the most popular place to see tweets that have received the most favorites or retweets. Traditionally, there has been a competition among users to try to see who can get the most favorites on a tweet on any given day. The key is the most humorous and original tweet usually wins (typically no link). Here are tweets from some of the most-favorited tweet writers to give you some ideas.

Summary

@Mikefixs asked if I could narrow down What makes a tweet great? to just one thing. Tough question! But my answer to him was:

“Caring about the people who will read it.”

So pick your goal, create several versions of a tweet, and edit the best versions until you are satisfied!