Twitter abuse (Part 2): writing effective tweets

In Part 1, I spoke about treating Tweeters (Twitter users) as humans, by which we discussed no auto DMing, and lowering your self-promotion.

Today, in Part 2, I will discuss:

Writing effective Tweets

If you are writing a new tweet, i.e. not retweeting (RTing) or replying to someone else’s tweet, you can get noticed by a few tips.

Leave enough space for “RT @[name]: ”

I like to re-tweet (RT) the old-fashioned way. AKA I like to put “RT @” in front of a Tweeter’s “@” mention name. This way, their name appears in the tweet. It feels more personal to me than pressing a button (although I do this occasionally)

However I can’t do this is the Tweeter didn’t leave enough space!

The point of leaving 6 characters “RT @” plus “: ” plus your mention-name is so people can RT this old-fashioned way! So, sometimes, if there isn’t enough space for me to write a RT then I won’t (can’t) do it.

It sounds lazy, or obvious, depending on how you look at it, but people will be physically able to RT your content if you leave the space in your original tweet to do so. For me, this means I always leave at least 18 characters.

(Whoops – my secret’s out!)

Use # (Hashtags) in moderation

First off, a hashtag is a topic link.

If I typed “#author” into my tweet and sent it, a blue hyperlink is created. This means my tweet with “#author” is searchable by any Tweeter, whether they follow me or not. A handy tool, I hear you say? Yes.

However, hashtags can be abused too!

No hashtags – Tweeters won’t find you and it’s harder to gain a bigger following if no one is seeing you!

Wrong hashtags – you use unrelated hashtags (i.e.#people) for a tweet about an author’s favourite lines in books. Or, you use obscure hashtags, which people don’t use and you’re the only one, perhaps besides one or two others, who use it. I.e. #lovecoolwritingtips

Too many hashtags – this isn’t wrong, per se, but it makes you look plain desperate, and you cut out space for titles, comments and RTing. Don’t take a stab in the dark and use six random hashtags in the hope they all work. Use related tags for writing tweets (i.e. #writing, #amwriting, #writetip).

 »Titling tweets «

An oldy but a goody: use action verbs. E.g:

“GRAB attention in your writing by KILLING the boring stuff.”

“How to USE bad reviews to IMPROVE book sales.”

Choose verbs carefully because they’re what people notice.

Start/End: the strongest parts of sentences are the starts and ends, just like novels — the middle is the weakest. Start with a bang and/or end with a bang.

Be personal. You have a Twitter account to say something that no one else can do, so add a comment! Do you have an absurd humour to add? I don’t so I don’t go for humour. I have an obsessive personality, so when I love a book, I’ll rave and OMGosh and share constantly.

I know you have 140 characters and all but … keep it concise. I used to use up every character when I started Twitter (don’t go back to check, please? Oh, you can’t :D ). Using up all 140 characters can be ineffective because your message runs the risk of getting lost among wordiness and useless baffle. Yes, even in only 140 characters.

Say something different! Search for a tag, i.e. #writetip, and you’ll find many “Top tips to…” and “10 ways to…”

What isn’t being said? You could try the flip side, and say “I hate tip lists and here’s why”. I’d be more likely to click on the latter tweet because I want to know why this Tweeter has said something that 98% of others aren’t! I’ve already read 100 posts on writing tips, but this person has done the opposite and I want to know why.

Don’t always do this — vary your tweets (which is next) — but an odd tweet like this heightens your chance of standing out from the crowd.

Vary tweets. I know many people who (I won’t name) send out the same tweet, the same TYPE of tweet. Mostly, this occurs with self-promotion. Only someone would annoy others so much if it benefited them.

Please, if you have a new post or book or message you want to share, mix it up.

I try to limit annoyance with: re-posting old blog posts, replying to tweets, reposting others’ content and tweeting random lines (no link tweets). (I hope I don’t annoy my audience.) It looks bad if someone can see the same post in one screen — fill up the space with other meaningful tweets.


Next up is how to find useful content to tweet (besides your own ;) )

Do you have any tips to add on writing effective tweets?


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28 thoughts on “Twitter abuse (Part 2): writing effective tweets

  1. I have to say that this is an interesting read. I’m a new author (and thus have chosen Twitter as my Social Networking medium) but have yet to receive followers. OK, so my book may be on Aspergers Syndrome (of which I have) but I am a very private person and thus don’t want to say what I’m doing in my private life (I also don’t have the time to tweet all the time – once a week at the most – however all of my blog posts are similtaneously posted to Twitter). So I’m curious as to how do I get – and maintain followers – yet retain my privacy (and still be on Twitter minimally without the apps!)

    • Gaining followers was part 1 (you should totally check that out).

      Regarding tweeting, I suggest you use Hootsuite (Google it and you’ll find it straight away) to schedule tweets. It means you can schedule timed tweets to be sent on your account and you don’t have to worry about sitting there wasting your time.

      I do suggest you tweet something every day.

      A tip on followers: add lots of followers in your audience or area and unfollow those who don’t follow you back. You want a vast majority seeing your tweets!

      • I have a couple of problems with this.

        1. I won’t use hoot suite or any other app to tweet (I have concerns with those; plus I have VERY limited access to a computer) and I certainly do NOT have the time to tweet every day (my life is far too dull). Once a week, maybe. Plus my WordPress blog is linked to my twitter anyway so I don’t see the point in resaying what I recently tweeted.

        2. I am not the person who randomly follows people – again, I have a busy life to lead (two jobs outside of writing plus my social life) and I’m not a person who noseys into some strangers activity. Really. I would much rather follow a celebrity than a total stranger.

        Yes, it’s my Aspeeger’s that comes through this and I have MAJOR reservations about social networking (which is why I very seldom, if not NEVER use it as I was once – in a former life – addicted to this). I only want my twitter to be a mere feed of my blog with random musings from myself. Nothing else. No following people online who I don’t know. No daily musings from oneself (I am a VERY PRIVATE PERSON).

        I just use twitter as an advertising tool for my book (most of my advertising will be offline anyway – which suits me down to the ground).

        I will be blogging about my reservations of twitter this week. I hope I haven’t offended you in anyway!

  2. Very helpful info. I feel like you could teach an entire workshop just on effective, proper tweeting alone! I tweet minimally, mainly because I don’t have the time to goof around with it. However, it is helpful to know how to do it the right way even if I am only doing it once a day. Thanks for the tips!

    • I don’t have time too. I think I’ve been putting my priorities in the wrong areas because the real people in my lives haven’t been getting much attention but at least I’ve put together a helpful post out of this.

      Send me a tweet if you ever have any questions. :). I’m far from a pro but I’ll help where I can.

  3. Ahaha! Thanks for sharing this – I kind of feel like it was directed right at me ;) I’m going to implement these tips in my tweet strategy. The last thing I want is to be annoying to my followers! Thank you again!

      • I actually visit quite often, but I tend to lurk more often than I comment – You have some true, solid advice that I appreciate! Number one has been telling me to drop the “aspiring” stuff about being a writer. I am a writer. Thank you.

        Oh, and you were one of my first Twitter followers too, so you got me started! ^_^

  4. Good stuff. I would add ‘mix it’ – while it’s create to tweet about writing and connect with other writers, you want to include other topics as well. Tweet about a good movie, an interesting news article, the latest sci-fi convention. Especially stuff that your readers will be interested in.

    • I can forgive your typos! ;)

      That’s a great point to expand on “varying”. Varying tweets also includes other topics. I like to tweet a lot about favourite books because I have readers following me and I want to make them happy too.

    • Yippee! I’ll take this moment to feel good about myself. Okay, moment over.

      Twitter Hashtags are one of the great mysteries of social media when people start off. They’re well worth learning, though. I’ve found so many followers through hashtagging. Good luck with your Twitter account!

  5. Perhaps I’m being a bit over-selfconscious as a Twitter newbie but I’m sure you refer to my twitter feed as a how-not-too before writing these guides! ;) I’m finding them very useful and I hope what I learn here shows. :) Thank you!

    • I won’t ask what you were doing before in that case. But I’ll ask what you’re interested in doing now on your Twitter?

      Thanks for reading again, Richard.

      • My procrastination’s got to stop. ;) I’ve heard from a number of sources that it’s a good idea for anyone who wants to get “out there” to network. Apparently social media in general is an ideal way to do that and obviously Twitter is one of the tools available. You might remember me asking you a while back about which networking media are the best for writers. You whittled the overwhelmingly large (in my mind) list down to Twitter and Facebook, and this was consistent with what others, including marketing experts, say. I still have to set up a Facebook page but so far Twitter is this “writer’s” feeble attempt at networking. Although admittedly I’ve polluted it with some unrelated things too.

        • Hey–rule 1:

          You must seize ownership of the title you’re a Writer. With z capital W. No quotation marks b*llshit.

          Secondly, varying tweets with random stuff is great. My suggestion is non-writing tweets can be beneficial as well! Think about cross-over interests. People who like books will like your tweets about movies. People who read Christian fiction will like your tweets about religion. People who like historical fiction will want to hear about your day out to the army barracks. See?

          But you can still tweet that you love your cat. I’ll read and care. :)

  6. Though I tweet reasonably regularly I am still on a learning curve with making best use of the medium, so this was a very beneficial read. I do want to check though with the first one as I’d rather make it personal than just hit RT which is what I’ve been doing. Can you walk me through that a bit more? Do you create a new tweet and then copy & paste the tweeters tweet into it? Or is there a simpler way I just don’t know about? Thanks another great post Rebecca : ) xx

    • It’s very easy to RT the old way on iPhones. They let you click on the tweet and copy it. It also copies the “@” mention name too! Then all you have to do is put “RT” before it or add a comment like, “you must read this article”.

      • Ah, it’s a tad more fiddly on a laptop with the mousepad and finger jobby. I don’t have a smartphone, but hey, if I ever do, I shall check this facility out ; ) Thanks x

    • I usually copy and paste into a new tweet when I’m doing RTs where I want to include a comment of my own, because twitter itself doesn’t let you do that anymore. Or, you can use some sort of twitter-enabled application like hootsuite or tweetdeck, where you can customize your RTs, push your tweet to Facebook, etc.

      Novel Girl, thanks for this post! :)

      • I think I’d find the copy and paste thingie easier to do on my big PC which has a real mouse but on my netbook I’m awful at it!! I keep meaning to check out tweetdeck and hootsuite. The latter you have to pay for I think don’t you?

        • Both of those applications used to be free–I haven’t used either one in a while, though.
          A mouse does make copy and paste easier, for sure. I’ve gotten good at copy and paste on both my laptop and my phone, so I’m sure you’ll get better with practice. ;-)

          • Excellent, today I set up a Tweetdeck account, prompted by this blogpost, so cheers for that : ) I’ve somehow ended up with 4 Twitter accounts, so it’ll come in proper handy! Scheduling tweets? Great idea x

            • Thanks for the tip about hootsuite! It’s been ages since I’ve used it, so perhaps I should start using it again! :)

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