Twitter Trends: Improve Your Tweets

Tweeting Links: Headlines Matter

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On Twitter, people often tweet links to their own published work, or articles that they have found relevant. In fact, so many people tweet links now that it requires a lot of work to get people to click on them. As a result, you must have a headline that sets your Tweet apart for the other stories of the day, says Stowe Boyd ( @stoweboyd), a social media analyst who writes the /message blog

"It could be humorous or topical," he says. "But you also must pare down to the absolute minimum."

One key differentiator can be pulling a quote from a piece that might entice people to read it. For instance, if everyone knows the general news of the day on a certain topic, tweeting an article with a general headline on the topic ("Democrats Reach 60 Seats in Senate") might not be as compelling as a new quote from President Obama or a Senator. In other words, assume people already read the nuts-and-bolts news story that first hit the wire, and show them why you read something that has greater depth or value. This approach also shows what about the article stuck out the most for you.

On Pistachio's website, a guest blogger, Marshall Thompson, published a helpful guide, seven steps to writing a successful Twitter headline. In the piece, he includes the following guidelines: keep it short, no puns, use keywords, use hashtags, don't consolidate stories (one tweet per story), link directly to story (not home page - don't be a page-view monger), and don't use subheads.

Learn from Past Tweets

Twitter's web-based version, and its ecosystem of apps such as TweetDeck, track every time your Twitter handle appears in a tweet. After you tweet a link or make a statement, watch how your followers receive it and whether they retweet it.

In addition to following your retweets on Twitter's search tool, other tools help you track the pervasiveness of the links you share. TweetDeck users utilize bit.ly to shorten URLs they tweet. If you visit bit.ly's website, you can track the performance of links you tweet.

Over time, you should notice patterns for what material your followers receive well. In many cases, it will depend on the audience, which can be quite diverse. Figuring out what makes your Twitter followers click and retweet is a process Boyd calls "micro-psychographics."

In his blog post explaining the phenomenon, Boyd observed that, based on anecdotal evidence, Twitter users respond to tweets differently. Some engage more heavily with questions or declarative sentences, while others prefer emotional prompts evincing anger or happiness. "I have noticed very different responses to different styles of URL-ed tweets," Boyd wrote. "And I think it has to do with the psychological makeup of the recipients of the messages, just as much as the text in the message."

More Twitter Tips from CIO:

Twitter Etiquette: Five Dos and Don'ts

Twitter Tips: How to Safely Blend the Personal and the Professional

How and Why to Launch a Business Presence on Twitter

Staff Writer C.G. Lynch covers consumer and social technologies for CIO. You can follow him at @cglynch.

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