How to format your tweets to get more retweets and clicks

January 24, 2014

This post is part of the January Website Butt-Crunch Programme which will help get your site in shape. Each week we're focussing on a different core area, this week it's social media.

Although creating compelling content should always be your primary concern, studies suggest that there’s a science to formatting your tweets to generate engagement. Here’s a few tweaks that have been found to increase retweets and clicks...

Want retweets?

Use less characters

Shorter tweets are more likely to be retweeted - perhaps as leaving more characters gives people more room to add their own thoughts to your tweet. Research has found between 100 -115 characters is the optimum length for encouraging retweets, whereas if you’re looking for clicks, between 120 -130 gives the best results.

Include a link

Tweets with links get retweeted more.

Ask for a retweet

It may feel slightly awkward and even a little desperate, but adding the words ‘Please retweet’ results in four times as many retweets. Other words which are retweeted often include ‘how to’, ‘great’, ‘check out’ and ‘new blog post’.

Share news

Or even better, news about celebrities. These are the topics most likely to see retweets and the most retweeted tweets of 2013 reflect this.

Want clicks?

Don’t put the link at the end

Analysis of over 200,000 tweets found the most effective place to put your link to drive clicks is a quarter of the way through your tweet.

Tweet your link more than once

But with different accompanying copy. The half-life of a tweet is under three hours, so tweeting your content again several hours later can result in twice as many clicks.

Customise your link

Customised links on perform better than the autogenerated ones, and custom domain links better again.

Test these ideas out with your audiences and measure the results - these studies are based on samples from across Twitter and may not necessarily work with your followers.

Be useful, interesting and timely

Above all, the key to generating engagement is sharing content that is either useful or interesting and, crucially, timely. Oreo’s Super Bowl tweet was so successful because it was sent out while the blackout was still taking place - afterwards the impact would have been seriously diminished. With this in mind, putting in place processes that allow your organisation to create responsive tweets is possibly the best step you can take towards increasing engagement.

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