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A Common Adage

It’s not what you say, but how you say it. We’ve all heard this maxim so many times. But do we think of writing tweets when the phrase comes to mind? In 2017 Twitter’s maximum character count doubled to 280 and doesn’t count images/gifs. Now’s the time to reconsider what makes tweets successful. Below are tweet components to help raise awareness for your brand or product. Thanks to a Cornell University language study, Twitter doesn’t have to be guesswork.

Details, Details

  • Asking followers to retweet or take some other action increases the likelihood that they will. Don’t worry about sounding needy or coming off as self promoting.
  • When drafting a tweet, keep in mind 280 characters is all the space you have to be informative. That is, informative enough to get users to retweet, click on your link, etc.
  • Write tweets the way you would speak. This indicates a sense of community amongst users. Your brand’s personality should be outlined in your brand guide. Draw on that guide to choose exactly the right words. Tweet what your company would say if it were a person. And not just any person—a person your followers know and love.
  • Imitate the style of newspaper headlines, which the Cornell researchers did in their study. This can be hard to pair with personality, but it’s a challenge worth your time and effort.
  • Analyze your own tweets that have already been retweeted. Write down a list of the top ten most used words. Work that list into your content style guide for your organization or company. MailChimp’s guide is an awesome example.
  • Social media is not the place to be on the fence. Neutrality doesn’t really help with awareness and engagement. Use words that express positive or negative sentiment about your subject matter.
  • It’s important to avoid appearing stuck in your own point of view. Refer to other people, not just yourself. Use second and third person pronouns to be more inclusive and engaging.
  • This is a tricky one when it comes to building trust and credibility. Statements that apply to a variety of situations are repeated most often. Still, you should stay away from gross generalizations. Think of different personas and industries when tweeting about a particular topic. Put yourself in different users’ shoes to check for layers of relevance.
  • Make it easy to read. Part of the study involved a formula used to measure the grade level of the text. Shorter words, phrases, and sentences go further.

Where the Study Stops

Cornell admits they “haven’t found a way to” capture elements of humor or cleverness. To be the most effective when writing tweets, use simple language heavy on verbs that will evoke an emotional response. What will trigger your community’s emotions? Only you can know the answer to this question. But we can help you.

Contact us if you’d like to partner on this. We can systematically work to find the answer you’ll start with, then plan to adjust. Social media is a moving, growing organism. Consistent care of your social media accounts is key to changing along with your community. When you change with them, you’ll stay relevant to them.

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Updated November 2017.

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