Keeping things short and sweet is the essence of Twitter. But how can you make the biggest impact within a limited character count?
In terms of online marketing, Twitter is a valuable platform, whether you’re focusing on your own personal profile, or creating a presence for a client. It offers brilliant opportunities to build awareness of a brand, tap into online communities, increase engagement levels with customers and peers, and connect with useful influencers.
Still, in an environment that can feel overwhelmed by trolls, Twitterstorms and Trumpisms, how can your voice – or your client’s – make itself heard? The short shelf-life of a tweet doesn’t mean you can trot out any old tripe; in fact, it makes it all the more important that your message offers maximum bang for its buck.
Like any piece of writing, a well-executed effort can achieve really effective results, so follow this checklist to help you hone every tweet you send.
The human touch
There’s a big clue in the phrase ‘social media’ – be social. Twitter gives individuals a platform on which to exhibit their personalities and specialities, so they can get noticed by like-minded people and start conversations, then build on that credibility.
Similarly, it gives businesses the chance to start a dialogue with their customers, which will help to nurture brand loyalty. On Twitter, you can bridge the gap between the personal and the professional, so always remember the human element at the heart of any interaction.
Target the right audience
Effective copywriting depends on understanding the audience you’re targeting, and that applies to the humble tweet too. Get inside the head of the person you’re writing for so you can identify their problems and desires, as that will dictate the tactics and words you use to grab their attention.
Reflect your client’s objectives
Is your client trying to build brand awareness? Increase engagement with its existing customers? Use Twitter as a marketing platform? Clarifying this will inform the approach you use when writing.
Tone of voice
A business’s tone of voice should be consistent, and that includes on social media. Yes, there’s wiggle room to make it more conversational – professional doesn’t have to mean formal – but use your judgement.
This extends to emojis, so think about whether they sit comfortably with your brand. Let’s be honest, no solicitor is going to build customer trust by maxxing out their character count with LOL faces.
By using hashtags which are relevant to your target audience, you’ll increase the probability of being discovered by them. For example, the ProCopywriters Twitter account regularly uses #copywriter, #copywriting and #copywritingtips. Others which open up the field include #freelance, #amwriting and #creativity.
Any copywriters who frequently use Twitter for connecting with their peers will also be familiar with #copywritersunite, which is an excellent example of how a community can be built around a hashtag.
Do a little competitor analysis (AKA stalking, but in a good way) and note down which hashtags are being used by other similar accounts. Keep in mind the words your target audience would use to search for information. Then check these words and phrases on an online tool such as RiteTag or Hashtagify to assess their popularity and discover other useful hashtags that will amplify your reach.
Hashtags can also be invented to group conversations around a topic or event. #IceBucketChallenge and #MeToo are two high-profile examples of the power of the hashtag, but in terms of your client, harness the organisational aspect of a hashtag rather than try to kickstart the next viral campaign.
ProCopywriters has a regular tweetchat with the umbrella of #ProCopyChat. Maybe your client is running a competition or offer, or holding an event which would benefit a unique hashtag? Do a quick search on Twitter to check your choice hasn’t been used before, then use it in your tweets along with a more established related hashtag to improve discoverability.
There are scores of established hashtags that you can utilise for your business – #MondayMotivation and #WednesdayWisdom can be flexible enough to allow you to demonstrate the expertise of your client or the benefits of its business to its customer base. (Though it’s up to you whether using the ubiquitous ‘inspirational quote’ will chime with your audience or provoke a derisive eye roll.)
A word of warning: Don’t jump on ‘trending’ and #NationalDay-type hashtags unless they align with your brand’s values. @BritishGasHelp did itself no favours in January 2017 with a tweet that read: Morning all. A year today we lost a pop icon David Bowie, time flys don’t it? [sic] We’re here till 10pm if you need anything. Thanks, Paul #RipDB. Hmmm. If ever a Bowie fan (or spelling pedant) needed a reason to switch energy supplier…
What sort of content?
A good balance of Twitter content is 20% created (directly promoting your brand – e.g. special offers, product information, links to your website) and 80% curated (providing content from other relevant sources, retweeting and replying to questions). People will be deterred if you just talk about yourself.
Ensure curated content is of a good quality and will resonate with your audience. Retweeting articles from relevant sources helps to build customer trust in your brand. When retweeting, add your client’s own spin on a subject, or highlight a stand-out quote from the link you’re using, to reinforce your authenticity and value.
Don’t forget to ‘@ mention’ the source of curated content. it’s the Twitter equivalent of doffing one’s cap and it helps you connect with influencers. It’s also basic Twitter etiquette.
Back to copywriting basics
Certain tried-and-tested copywriting tricks and principles can be incredibly effective within the character constraints of a tweet. These tips, along with a few others, will help to sharpen your writing skills so you can structure compelling copy that falls into the ‘20% created’ section:
- Always keep in mind your target audience, plus your client’s objective, and find the ‘sweet spot’ where these two overlap.
- Include a strong call to action (‘Buy’, ‘Sign up’, ‘Check out this’, ‘Join’).
- Use imperative language (‘How to’, ‘This is what’, ‘5 ways to’) to persuade a reader to click on a link.
- Choose words that stir the emotions (‘Informative’, ‘Successful’, ‘Easy’).
- Create a sense of urgency (‘Just arrived’, ‘Don’t miss’).
- Ask a question – you want people to click on a link, but you also want them to engage with the tweet itself.
- Think ‘FAB’ – what is the key Feature, why is this an Advantage, what is the Benefit to the customer.
- Try the ‘PAS’ formula (Problem, Agitate, Solve) – for example: ‘You’re late home from work. The kids are starving. This recipe using our cook-in sauce will make teatime easy.’
- Use the Before-After-Bridge trick – what is the reader’s current problem, what would their ideal scenario be, how can your product or service help them get there?
Keep it simple
- Stick to two hashtags per tweet – any more will look spammy, adding unnecessary clutter to your message. Try using one keyword hashtag in the main copy, and one that relates to the overall subject/sector on a new line at the end of the tweet.
- Use a link shortener such as Bitly to keep your character countdown.
- Just because there are now 280 rather than 140 characters at your disposal, you don’t have to use them all. Less is often more.
- Focus on one key message in your tweet – a link can provide more information.
- Think about how you can repurpose one larger piece of content for multiple tweets – select a different quote, use new hashtags, ask a new question, run a poll.
- Avoid jargon. This needs no further explanation.
Extra Twitter tips
We’ve concentrated on how to choose the most effective words for a tweet, but here are a few bonus recommendations if you’re going further into the social media management side of things:
- Stay engaged: Posting a well-written tweet is only the start. Whether you’re managing an account directly or offering advice to a client, always remember that the goal is to have conversations that increase engagement with that profile. So, ensure that there is someone to ‘like’ replies and respond to any comments that occur – good or bad. Switch to Direct Messaging if there’s an issue that is becoming protracted and needs resolving.
- Time tweets: Think about when your target audience is likely to be using Twitter and post the tweets at those times (e.g. a B2B brand may be better suited to Mon-Fri office hours). Look into scheduling tools such as Buffer, Hootsuite and SmarterQueue to work more efficiently.
- Include visuals: A strong, image, video or GIF leads to higher engagement rates, so think about how you can use these in your tweets. Your client may provide visual content for you to use, while free image libraries include Unsplash, Pexels and Pixabay; and Twitter itself has a GIF button. A visual element can help convey the personality of a company or the tone of a tweet, so remember it needs to compliment the overall brand (that probably means no llamas in sombreros for your local accountancy firm).
- Use the analytics: Twitter Analytics combined with Google Analytics (for your client’s website) enable you to drill down into the data and find out what’s working and what not. Use this to hone your message structure, to identify what content works best, to inform the optimum timing of tweets, and so on. These numbers can prove just as valuable as the words.