10 steps to Twitter heaven

When we publish things on Twitter we naturally want our followers to pass things on to their own followers.  A retweet makes us feel good, it says that our followers find what we share useful whilst at the same time enhancing the reach of our tweets.  Researchers at MIT have studied what works and what doesn't work when it comes to getting those retweets.

How not to get retweets

  1. Don't use a hard sell.  Coming on strong reduces retweets by 32%
  2. Don't ask questions.  Whilst this may work well for getting @ responses, it doesn't work well for getting retweets, with questions getting 30% fewer retweets
  3. Hashtags don't help.  Using hashtags in your tweets seems standard now, even for boring events that no one really cares about.  Their inclusion does nothing to encourage retweets though
  4. People don't share competitions.  Many of us think if we give people a fun way to win things that they'll instantly share it with their friends.  The research suggests that this really doesn't happen.

Ok, so those are a few things that they suggest don't work for getting retweets.  So what does work?

How to get retweets

  1. Use <70 characters.  Tweets of less than 70 characters were retweeted twice as often as normal.  The message is clear.  Leave room for people to both retweet you and add in their username and/or comment.
  2. Grab their attention.  Remember the old AIDA acronym?  Get their attention early on in your tweet.  Attention grabbing openings were retweeted 40% more often.
  3. Ask for the retweet.  This is always something I've shied away from.  Bit naff isn't it?  It works though.  A simple RT request saw 34% more retweets.
  4. Reveal the inner you.  People tend to follow people on Twitter to hear the real them, not a corporate mouthpiece.  Content that humanizes the user is retweeted 70% more often.
  5. Share your success.  If you've achieved a notable win, share it on Twitter.  The research shows that people tend to enjoy this, with retweets up 29% for celebratory tweets. 
  6. Help people.  This one seems more obvious.  If you give people things they can use, then they retweet it 51% more often than normal.
  7. Save them money.  Everyone loves to save money, so giving people deals etc. is a great way to generate retweets.  Tweets containing deals were shared 16% more than normal.
  8. Be relevant.  Things age uber quickly on the web, so make sure what you tweet about is relevant.  Topical tweets are shared 41% more often than normal.
  9. Wet the appetite.  If you can create a sense of anticipation you're 24% more likely to get a retweet.
  10. Power combos.  What's interesting is that if you can combine some of these into a single tweet your retweet power is supercharged.  Can you reveal the inner you whilst sharing a success story?  How about grabbing attention with a money saving offer?

We all want to get the most out of Twitter.  Hopefully these tips will help you do just that.




9 thoughts on “10 steps to Twitter heaven

    • Hi Ricardo,

      Thanks for the comment. Conferences are probably one of the few good uses for a hashtag. I suspect they're used an awful lot in less than optimum ways, and it's at these times that they don't get a retweet.

  1. Nice findings. As always with these things I'd love to know if they found particular things worked particularly well for particular industries. Suspect it's not the same across the board.

  2. I disagree slightly with item 4 in how not to get re-tweets. We ran this competition and achieved almost 5,000 RTs ( http://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2012/07/23/win-a… ). Admittedly, though, you RTed the post in order to enter, so that's probably a little different from what you meant.

    I would be interested if you could expand on item 2 in how to get re-tweets. I'm guessing "BOO!" at the beginning of the tweet doesn't work… 😉 But what does in this context?

    Finally, I think you mean "whet the appetite" (not wet) for item 9. 🙂

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