I am not going to pretend to be a twitter expert – in fact, I just joined twitter earlier this week. As a tweeting newbie, I do not feel qualified to offer guidelines on how to use twitter to its fullest potential. However, I am an expert on what I like and what works for me, so I thought I would offer my five tips on what types of tweets were most effective for me and therefore might also appeal to other members of the general public. This information may prove useful to health non-profits looking to make the most of their 140 characters.
1. A simple, yet moving, photograph. Stand Up To Cancer’s campaign with Major League Baseball produced some incredible photos that really brought home the fact that everyone is somehow affected by cancer. Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words.
2. Important facts – succinctly written – with links to more information. The CDC has great tweets with snippets of information and links to the full story – if you already know the information, you can skip to the next tweet; if you don’t, you can easily learn more. The key for me is that the fact be interesting and quick to skim. Like I said, further information can always be included in a link, so don’t feel you need to include too much in the tweet.
3. Offer an incentive to both read your tweet and follow the instructions in the tweet – for example, to register for an event. AIDS LifeCycle offered Dunkin’ Donut’s Coffee to encourage people to register and with a good picture of the incentive, it is pretty tempting…
4. Tweet an inspiring quote. People like to remember quotes and just seeing that a tweet is in quotes and attributed to a famous person will make someone more likely to read the tweet. The more famous the person, the better. If the person isn’t very famous, make it a really good quote.
5. Have some humorous tweets, if appropriate. This example is not from a health-related organization, but I do find funny tweets to be the mainstay of my new twitter page. If it is possible to mix humor into your important messages, without decreasing the value of the message – do it. Here is an example from the Tonight Show. No offense to the kale lovers.
There are a lot more resources out there for how to build effective twitter pages and tweets. Heather Mansfield’s book “Social Media for Social Good” is an excellent resource. I also found a few helpful articles, such as “Twelve Most Effective Ways to Engage on Twitter” on Open Forum and “Tweet Tips: Most Effective Calls to Action on Twitter.”
I also read an article reviewing a study that Twitter did about the most likely to succeed (be retweeted) tweets – and the results can be found here. The study found that photos got the most retweets, followed by videos, quotes, statistics, and hashtags. A variety of different types of tweets is definitely important though, and it is important to not force a type of tweet just because it is popular (like an unclear photo or an uninteresting statistic or too many hashtags!).
I hope the advice and resources listed above will help anyone to be well on their way to tweeting effective tweets – even if they are a new twitterer like me!