1.30am, a little tipsy, my girlfriend gets 69 retweets for an obscure My Little Pony reference:
If my throat’s a little hoarse does that mean I’m Pinkie Pie? #MyLittlePony #pollen #hayfever pic.twitter.com/xHBvJ609Sj
She’s an enviable Twitter guru, but she doesn’t even try. She just does her thing; and people share and favourite and follow… Yet again, it’s the ones who throw caution to the wind and embrace originality who go the furthest on Twitter.
Copywriters and creatives love to dissect successful Twitter accounts, clinically reducing them to trite anecdotes, distorted logic and tenuous statistics. Fast-forward a few thousand repetitious and unscientific ‘top tips’ and you’re probably just smashing your forehead into the keyboard until despair registers in 140 characters or less. #aaaarrrgghhbqinkjeiobiarfg
Having been there, done that and thrown out the t-shirt, I’ve realised that every piece of useful Twitter advice I’ve ever heard can be boiled down into 3 rather unsurprising ‘secrets’. You just need the right perspective;
1. Make interaction your second priority
That’s right… your second priority. People tend to get so hung up on how many hashtags they should use and what tweet length is optimal that they forget to actually say something interesting. For example, according to some choice cuts of “expert advice” I found out there, this should be a prime tweet:
Love Weetabix for breakfast bit.ly/FE5rGz Please Retweet #Breakfast #Cereal
- Short messages are easier to read. They attract the eye. Tweets of “70—100 characters get 17% more engagement”.
- 2 hashtags is best (although 3 can work with shorter messages). They increase the chance of being seen without making the tweet too long, confusing or cluttered. Using more than 3 hashtags (or more than 2 if it takes you over 100 characters) will apparently “reduce engagement by 17%”.
- Media attachments like images and video are “8 times more likely to get retweeted”.
- Adding a link will get you “86% more retweets”.
- Asking for retweets (believe it or not) gets more retweets; on average by “23-fold if the words ‘please retweet’ are used versus 10-fold if the abbreviations ‘please RT’ or ‘pls RT’ are used”.
But you know what? None of those regurgitated statistics mean a thing when the message has no substance. The experts always forget to tell you that nobody cares about your breakfast.
Getting found with hashtags; creating eye-catching tweets; providing tools and incentives to interact… none of these things compare to creating a truly compelling message. If your tweet is dull, contrived or uninspired then nobody will engage with it no matter how you skin it up.
2. Get your timing right
Use your noggin. Get a good foundation knowledge of Twitter (including what makes it different from other networks), throw in some consideration for your market, add a twist of competitive strategy and top it all off with copious amounts of common sense.
Unless there were some pretty extenuating circumstances, you probably wouldn’t promote Christmas Specials in June; likewise you probably wouldn’t promote Special Offers for your coffee shop at 1.30am.
Don’t get me wrong: Chasing brand awareness for a coffee shop by tweeting at 1.30am isn’t a bad thing. No time is a bad time to tweet so long as you’re aware of what you can realistically achieve. But to simplify any more than that is to do an injustice to your own efforts.
Certain times will be better for certain types of customer; certain times will be better for certain types of content; certain times will be more or less competitive But there’s no golden rule. There’s just your own logic, so make sure it holds up! And if you don’t feel qualified or prepared to make those judgments, talk to our experts.
3. Stop reading lists of Twitter tips, you big wimp!
Oh, you’re still here. Sorry about calling you a wimp.
But the thing is, if you need to read endless lists of tips that tell you how to have a voice, how to be unique and interesting, then you probably shouldn’t have a Twitter account. Twitter is about putting yourself out there and nurturing relationships… so being a Nervous Nelly won’t get you very far.
Ever been stuck on a table full of strangers you had to impress over dinner at a wedding? I’ll bet you found something interesting to say without resorting to a ‘Top Ten Tips for Talking at a Table’ article. And until you got smashed on the free Moët you probably didn’t embarrass yourself too much either.
So above all else, superseding all the other advice you’ll ever receive, remember this: Don’t try to be like other people, but trust yourself to be yourself and get stuck in!
Something tells me the people in charge of the @BetFairPoker, @OldSpice and @Oreo accounts have a surprising amount of freedom to be themselves given that they work in such large international corporations (check out their profiles if you haven’t seen them before). So why can’t that strategy work for smaller, more personable businesses and brands like yours?
Remember the old adage – people buy from people.
People can smell a phony. If I tweeted the exact same joke about My Little Pony to the @AttainDesign audience at 1.30am, I doubt I’d get the same reaction as my girlfriend did. Find your own voice and be brave!