Twitter is digital (or online) word-of-mouth. Information can be spread around quickly, and if the content that is being tweeted is irresistible – like a link to a good story, video, blog post, whatever – it can go viral in a matter of hours. Surely you have come across articles or blog posts with the familiar Tweetmeme button touting hundreds of retweets, some even thousands. That’s either some delicious content and/or a very good headline and teaser in the tweet itself.
What makes a tweet retweet-able?
Good retweet-able Twitter posts should include a clever, enticing headline – something that grabs the attention of followers. If the tweet is sharing a link to a news article or blog post, ideally the tweeted copy will be similar to the article’s headline (which itself should be intriguing.) Even if you are tweeting a link to some interesting article, feel free to either elaborate on the story’s headline, or opt for a clever comment or response to the content – especially if you indeed left a comment on the article itself.
If the tweet is originated by you and points to something on your website or an article posted on your blog, you’ll already want to craft a captivating headline for the story, anyway. Tweets with lead-ins like “How to..” or “10 things…” etc, are enticing and ask for further investigation.
Using a URL shortener to add links to your tweets is the best way to free up character real estate. After all you only have 140 characters to work with. Also, a number of popular shorteners like Bit.ly, Ow.ly, etc. offer click histories for each link they create from web pages. See how and when a particular shortened URL worked its way across the web.
Include a hint about what’s in store for the reader. Shortened URLs leave a bit of mystery as where we might be led, but you can provide a head’s up by adding [video] or [pic] or some such to your tweet. A shortened link URL also allows you to leave more space should others want to retweet it. You have a max of 140 characters to use in a tweet, but there’s no rule stating you must use all of them, every tweet.
Adding one or two has tags to your tweet indicates you’d like a particular niche to pick up your tweet in Twitter streams they are following. For instance if you are a restaurant tweeting about your participation in a local festival, you’d want to include that event and city’s hash tag in order for your tweet to show up in people’s streams following that term or hash.
Caution with hash tags: no need to go all hash tag crazy on your audience. Limit the tweet to one or two relevant tags. You might add a few more if you’re asking a question to multiple markets and are looking for feedback form people you haven’t crossed social paths with yet.
TALK TO PEOPLE
Simply starting or participating in social conversations is a good way to encourage others to indulge your tweets and pass them on. You want to do the same for them; sharing their links and articles builds trust and social camaraderie that’s infectious.
In short, you want to make it easy for others to retweet you. Craft an interesting headline, use a URL shortener, and add a hash tag if you’re sharing links for a particular interest group.
What make a tweet “non-retweet-able”?
Scratch that, tweeting mostly about yourself or your biz. According to Chris Brogan, one of this blog’s favorite bloggers on all things social media, an ideal tweet ratio should be 12:1. Meaning for every 12 tweets you post, only one should be about you. The rest should be sharing information, links, accolades, conversations and hellos with your audience. People won’t be inspired to RT a constant sales pitch, either.
NO REAL ESTATE LEFT TO TWEET
Try not to pack so much information, URLs (shortened or not), multiple hash tags, etc. into a tweet. Again, make it easy for it to be retweeted by leaving some space for the next RT’s own Twitter name to be included with yours.
If you’re sharing an article or post, be sure to actually read the post before retweeting it. If a tweet is leading back to your website, does the page/site look good? Or is it something you’d rather hide in the coat closet? Is the story on your blog proof read and ready for viewing by everyone and their neighbor?
Unless you are someone LIKE the aforementioned Chris Brogan, its not a bad idea to send out a blanket RT thank you if a particular post gets a number of retweets. It shows you appreciate the coverage and sharing. Likewise, make it a habit to reply to comments on your blog posts. It shows you’re listening and value your audience’s feedback. By not showing any signs of life or gratitude after you went to all the effort of writing a post and getting it out there, you might be dismissing your most avid fans. The whole idea of social media is to be social, to engage people, and share your ideas and theirs.
Are you making it easy to be retweeted? Do you have a system that works for you?