5 Twitter tips for writing tweets

If you’re Richard Branson, you won’t have too much trouble getting your Tweets read.

But if you’re Nigel No Name with no reputation to speak of, you may have some difficulty getting traction.  For the record, Twitter is not for everyone but if you’re in fast-moving, information-based industries like the media, technology and politics, you must be on Twitter and be prepared to contribute to the conversation.

So what can Nigel No Name do to get his Tweets read?

When writing Tweets, it’s worth applying the principles of copywriting, and in particular, the art of using Headline Formulas, to increase your Tweet readership.

For example, instead of thinking of your Tweets as 140-character messages, you really must think of your Tweets as a series of little advertisements.

To be really specific, it pays to think of your Tweets as headlines in a newspaper. 

For example, if you are a real estate agent and you see a big headline on the front page of your daily newspaper that reads:

“Housing Market Plunges Overnight”

… chances are you’ll be checking that story out in a hurry.

But if you’re a 19-year old university student living in a share house in Carlton, who’s biggest worry is who ate the last slice of pizza from last nights’ left overs, then that headline is unlikely to be of any concern.

So, in essence, writing great headlines is about relevance.

And by definition, that means knowing who your market is.

These two key elements are essential pieces of information when writing copy for any medium but they take on a staggering level of importance when it comes to writing for social media, and in particular Twitter.

For example, how many times have you seen Tweets that look like this?

SmallBizCoaches Forum. # Networking skills #business #marketing #coachhttp://www.coachingozforum. /ZJQQgcqm/twitter.pic./#425Ej

Pretty unattractive to read, right? Sure, you can get a general idea of what the Tweet’s about but really, to the novice user, this Tweet is just hard work and you certainly wouldn’t waste too much time giving this one the flick.

Compare that with the Tweet below. It’s offering the same information about a small business forum for coaches, but notice the differences:

Top #Smallbiz #Coach earning a million per year tells how she built her client base. Join the webinar. Starts now. Pls RT. bit.ly/Kc8y

Here’s what the second version did differently:

  • It included a benefit in the Tweet:

This Tweet promises the reader the chance to learn how a coach makes one million dollars a year. For a novice coach, that’s a pretty good offer because finding clients is the number one issue they all face starting out. Try to make sure your Tweet offers your reader something relevant they’ll value. Make it worth their while to click through.

  • It doesn’t go crazy with hash tags (#):

As important as hash tags are, there shouldn’t be too many and they definitely should not hijack the message.

  • Engage a strong call to action:

Use action-oriented words like “Join…” or “Check out…” or “Download…” so that people know what they have to do to take advantage of your resources.

  • Ask people to Retweet or RT (forward to their Followers) your Tweets:

The simple task of including the words “Pls RT” is all people need to get them to send it on. So easy. So simple.

  • Use short links:

Long links look lousy. Twitter will often shorten your links for you but why take the chance when you can use www.bitly.com to do it for you.  It’s a free tool. Use it. Often.

As a professional copywriter, I’ve been using headline formulas for years.  And why wouldn’t I?  They’re tried, tested and get results so investing effort in creating my own is not a good use of my time. Don’t be afraid to use Formulas if you want to slash your writing time in half. They really do work.

There’s lots you can do to get your Tweets read and acted upon, but applying some copywriting skills, and treating them like headlines in a newspaper is a great starting point.