How to write tweets that go viral
“How do you find time to tweet?” my speakers’ network e-zine asked subscribers.
“I don’t have time not to tweet,” I wrote back.
That’s because the people I follow on Twitter serve as sort of a virtual research team. They scour the web, finding valuable information — new studies, resources and insights — so I don’t have to.
Why people share content
Passing along valuable information is one of the top three reasons people share content, according to a 2010 study by Chadwick Martin Bailey. Those reasons are:
- Because I find it interesting/entertaining: 72%
- Because I think it will be helpful to recipients: 58%
- To get a laugh: 58%
Want your tweets to get retweeted? Make them helpful to your followers. Here are three ways to do that:
1. Share how-to stories.
How-to information is the No. 2 type of content that gets retweeted, according to 2010 research by Dan Zarrella, viral marketing scientist for HubSpot:
- News: about 78%
- How-to information: about 58%
- Entertainment: about 53%
- Opinion: 50%
- Products: about 45%
- Small talk: about 12%
Don’t get distracted by that first type of content. “News” doesn’t mean updates about your products, services, programs and ideas. When readers think news, they think Epi pen prices, Beyonce videos and Donald Trump gaffes.
Want more retweets? Write blog posts packed with tips and techniques, then share them via Twitter.
2. Tweet like H&R Block.
That’s what H&R Block does. The company’s Twitter feed offers tax tips and help on demand. Sample tweets:
- “Tax Deductions for Job Search Expenses http://bit.ly/ONXcRp”
- “Garage Sale Money: Does the IRS Need to Know? http://bit.ly/MHEavE”
- “Summer Jobs and Taxes: 5 Things to Keep in Mind http://bit.ly/Q9zqCs”
This how-to approach earned H&R Block a place on Time magazine’s list of top 10 corporate Twitter feeds.
3. Share links.
H&R Block’s tweets often contain links. And that’s another way to go viral with Twitter: The more links you share, the more retweets you’ll get, according to Zarrella.
In a 2009 study, Zarrella found that nearly 60 percent of retweets included links; fewer than 20 percent of non-retweeted tweets do.
Want people to spread the word? Provide links to resources, tips and tools.
What not to do.
What’s not retweetable?
Small talk, Zarrella says. In 2012, he studied the percentage of “@” replies that get retweeted to learn the value of conversing. He found that people who chat a lot on Twitter are less likely to get retweeted than those who chat less.
So much for the power of “engaging in the conversation.”
How much conversation is enough? Aim for about 10 percent “@” replies among your tweets, Zarrella suggests. The rest of the time, focus on delivering relevant, valuable, helpful information.