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!

212 thoughts on “What makes a tweet great?

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