The World Wide Web is all atwitter over “tweeting”, and your business can gain free exposure by getting in on the action. You’ve probably heard Twitter referenced over and over in magazines, on television shows and online. Celebrities often gain attention for inappropriate or controversial tweets. While it wouldn’t be a good idea for your business to become too controversial, as you’ll alienate some of your clientele, you can use Twitter in a way that will drive customers to your site and cause others to retweet your posts on their own Twitter feeds.
In The Science of Retweets by Dan Zarrella, he took a random sample of tweets and tracked them to figure out why people retweet. He got some interesting results.
I found that in a random sample of normal (non-ReTweet) Tweets, 18.96% contained a link, whereas 3 times that many ReTweets (56.69%) included a link.
This means that not only are ReTweets an accepted way to spread off-Twitter content, the presence of a link may increase a Tweet’s chances of being shared.
According to Statistic Brain, there are 554,750,000 active registered users on Twitter as of April 19, 2013. This means that your potential reach is in the 100s of millions. Of course, not all of those people will retweet your post, but if you craft it the right way, you are certain to get at least a few retweets. Other statistics listed by Statistic Brain include:
135,000 new users sign up each day
58 million new tweets per day
9,100 tweets per second (on average)
In addition to these statistics, get in on a hot topic, like the election campaign, awards ceremonies or other big event and the number of overall tweets (and thus retweets) rises drastically. For example, CNN Tech indicated that during the 2013 Oscars, there were 6.8 million tweets that went out. During the big moment when the Best Picture (Argo) was announced, as many as 85,300 tweets per minute were being shared. During the 2013 Super Bowl, a record number of tweets was recorded with a total of 24.1 million during the game.
This information is good to have, because if you can work a tweet into a big event that also helps promote your business via a link, then you have the opportunity for retweets. Let’s start by looking at what others have already successfully created that has been retweeted. Some of the most popular retweets of the last three years were:
Rihanna tweeted that Justin Bieber flashed his abs at her and it was retweeted over and over by teen fans everywhere. Take note if you have a product or service targeted at the younger crowd. Boy singers are hot, including One Direction, and if you have a valid tweet you can get retweets.
Someone with the username “al-Qaida” posted that they weren’t about to share their location and weren’t going to fall for that trick. Because it was funny, the post was retweeted multiple times and went viral. If you can approach your tweet with some tongue-in-cheek humor that is also timely, you will likely get retweets.
Anything from the hottest celebrities of the day. Justin Bieber often takes over the top 10 most retweeted posts, but other celebrities get their share of the attention, too.
The highest grossing retweet of 2012 was posts about the results of the election and an announcement from Barack Obama that stated simply “four more years”. As a business, you probably shouldn’t take political sides, but you can certainly figure out a way to get in on the most popular topics and get a possible retweet.
Twitter does offer one tool that may help you out as you figure out what is currently trending on Twitter. They now list the top tweeted hashtags on their home page. So, if you see that #springcleaning is trending, then you could create a post related to spring cleaning products at your store and how to use them.
Creating a Tweet
Sure, anyone with a Twitter account can type out a few words and post them up on Twitter, but not all tweets are created equal. As you put together your first tweet with the intent of going viral with twitters, you’ll need to know a few specifics about Twitter posting when you want that post to go at least a little bit viral.
Keep It Short
Twitter’s dynamic is different than Facebook or Pinterest. Tweeters are looking for quick, fast reads. According to a Twitter blog post in 2010, about 62% of Twitter users at that time were accessing the site via mobile devices. That number is likely to rise and more and more people acquire smart phones and tablet devices. These people are looking for a fast read, so keep it short and to the point. Twitter limits tweets to 140 characters per tweet anyway, but within those characters, you’ll also want to add a request to retweet.
Ask for the Retweet
One of the easiest ways to get people to retweet your post is simply to ask your followers to retweet. You can do this in shorthand, so you don’t use up all your characters asking for the retweet. At the end of your tweet, simply type something like “please rt”.
Make It Interesting
The tweets that get retweeted are either profound, funny or interesting. Take the time to brainstorm what you want to tweet. Run the idea past some of your employees or other managers. Refine it, perfect it, and then put it out there and see what happens. Remember that every interesting tweet doesn’t get retweeted, but you’ll have a better chance of it being retweeted if it is unique.
Get More Retweets
1. Automate Things
If you make regular tweets, then the chances of gaining followers and them retweeting rises sequentially. Luckily, you can automate this process and schedule tweets through HootSuite.
2. Measure Your Success
Measuring retweets, or at least the success of a tweet in gaining retweets, can help you repeat successful posts that go viral. There are a couple of ways you can track tweets and how many times they are retweeted.
First, go to your home timeline. From here, you can see under the tweet how many of your followers have retweeted the post. You can also view retweets from “Connect” in the top navigation bar. Then, click on “Interactions”. This will show you what interactions you’ve had with other Twitter users, including retweets.
3. Shorten URLs
If you include a URL in your tweet, be sure to shorten that URL. There are several popular services that are effective at shortening URLs, including:
4. Use Popular Words
In addition to studying why people retweet, Dan Zarella took a look at some of the most popular words in the most retweeted posts. He found that some of the more popular words included short words and phrases, such as:
There were also some words that he found were extremely unpopular, such as:
5. Get Engaged in the Twitter Community
Whether you spend time engaging on your own or you hire a social media manager to do so for you, get involved in “discussions” about topics that might draw people in the field you are in. If you are a web designer, then you might get involved in a chat about the possibility of the government taxing Internet sales. Use the hashtag others are using. For example, they might use #internet tax.
The final tip that Zarrella offers that can help your posts get retweeted is that Friday is a high volume day on Twitter. This is the day that overall the most posts and retweets occur. If you only have time to post once a week, make sure it is on Friday. Keep your posts interesting, offer unique content, ask for retweets, use popular words and trending topics and get involved. If you do these things, your posts will be retweeted and you’ll reach new followers you otherwise wouldn’t have.
Lori Soard has been working as a freelance writer and editor since 1996. She has a bachelor's in English Education and a PhD in Journalism. Her articles have appeared in newspapers, magazines, online and she's had several books published. Since 1997, she has worked as a web designer and promoter for authors and small businesses. She even worked for a short time ranking websites for a popular search engine and studying in-depth SEO tactics for a number of clients. She enjoys hearing from her readers.