It’s the same old question everybody has been asking since way back: how do you get more retweets on Twitter?
Answer: you have to make an effort. You can’t put any old junk out there and expect your followers to automatically pass it on. You have to strive to make everything readable and retweetable.
It’s different for celebrities. Their fans will blindly share any old dross. But for common or garden folk like you and me, generating retweets takes time, and it takes work. You have to put in the effort. Each and every time.
Here are 5 quick and easy tips to get more retweets.
1. Build Your Audience
This one’s a bit of a no-brainer but it often goes unsaid: your chances of generating a large number of retweets increase exponentially with the size of your Twitter audience. Assuming you’ve built your network properly (i.e., by being consistently excellent, not just mass-following everyone in the hopes they’ll follow you back), then the more followers you have will absolutely increase the odds of
(a) somebody seeing your tweet and
(b) retweeting it
And while the good thing about retweets is that they spread outwards, across Twitter, giving you the opportunity to be seen – and retweeted – by others, the harsh reality is that nobody with ten followers gets a ton of retweets. Certainly not on a regular basis. So get the numbers up to increase your retweet potential.
2. Give The People What They Want
This might also seem blatantly obvious, but is so easily overlooked. To increase your chances of retweets and clicks, or to even ensure that somebody is reading your stuff, you have spend some time educating yourself about what exactly it is your network respond to, wants to read and, here’s the kicker, is willing to share with their friends.
You don’t have to change who you are to meet this standard, but simply assuming that anything you say goes or that people will come around eventually in spite of all the evidence (i.e., hard data) is a reliable and very modern definition of madness. If you aren’t getting the results you expect, change the formula.
3. If You Can’t Be The Best, Be The First
If you’re sharing news try and be the first to do so. And if you can’t be the first, be the first to make it interesting: put a unique spin on the story. If you’re tweeting your own stuff, always be original and creative. Make people want to read and share your content.
Remember that old adage about how today’s newspapers are tomorrow’s fish and chip papers? That’s Twitter in a nutshell. It’s folly to expect folks will want to read, let alone retweet old news. While accuracy is critical, position yourself to be an expert in your niche and get the information out early and aggressively.
4. Leave Enough Space
Twitter introduced its new-style retweet back in November 2009, which is an eternity ago in the social media space. And while many millions of people only use this kind of retweet, many millions of others – especially veteran users – do not. They either interchange the new-style retweet with the old, RT @ (or via @) organic style retweet, or exclusively use the latter.So, best practice for ensuring your tweet is easily retweetable by all kinds of users is to leave enough space at the end of every tweet to accommodate the RT @username that will be added to an old-style retweet (which is done automatically on lots of Twitter apps).
Here’s a handy tip: get in the habit of leaving at least 20 free characters at the end of every tweet after you’ve written your copy and added your links. Otherwise, it makes it awkward for people to retweet your stuff without (a) editing it down which (b) can alter and sometimes completely ruin the goal of your message (i.e., they might decide to remove the link). And often, that little bit of extra work will remove any incentive they had to retweet you at all.
5. The Trick Is To Get Them To Read It First
Here’s the secret in a nutshell: you won’t get a retweet if somebody doesn’t think your tweet is worth retweeting, so if what you’re saying isn’t worth reading, then it’s fair to say that retweets aren’t coming your way. Again, it’s different for celebrities. But for us regular folk, we have to convince others to retweet our content, and to do that we have to also convince them to read it. No read, no retweet.
The copy part of your tweet – that is, the section without any link, which we’ll call the headline – is of absolute importance. If you’re ambiguous your readers will be cautious. If you lie or try to trick people, most won’t click on anything you say ever again. A little spit and polish goes a long way. Humour works brilliantly. Create an itch that others have to scratch. Accept nothing less than flawless grammar, perfect spelling and correct (and acceptable) punctuation. Take the time to really craft your tweets. If you can’t be bothered, why would you expect anybody else to care?
(And unless you’re a teenybopper – and even then it’s not advisable – leave the LOLs and text speak for people who don’t want retweets.)
Retweets are the backbone of the Twitter network. Thanks to the ripple effect, a retweet allows any single person’s message – and this includes you – to be seen by any and everybody. Theoretically at least, your single tweet could reach more than 200 million people.
This isn’t hyperbole – it’s a literal statement. All those interlocking micro-communities mean that everyone is connected to everybody else.
But it isn’t going to happen simply because you want it to. And with some exceptions (everybody gets lucky once in a while), nobody is going to make it happen for you.
Bottom line? You gotta do the work. And when you don’t get the results that you want, you gotta make some changes and do it again. And again. And again. And again.
(Retweet image: chalo84 via Flickr.)