When communicating online, a well-planned piece of content or social media update can have a significant impact.
Taking the time to consider the best way to delivering an update, can greatly increase its organic reach, engagement and overall success.
A number of contributing factors help positively impact engagement with an update, as we found with the recent example of our #ThinkBeforeYouPost tweet below.
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The tweet gathered 55 retweets, 20 favourites, and an impressions reach 7,422 twitter feeds across a 24 hour period.
The success of the tweet cannot be attributed to one specific reason, but rather a series of included elements that helped drive that level of engagement.
Some quick background on the contents of the tweet. Hook Media runs varying social media education workshops and presentations for organisations, including sports teams and athletes, about the importance of ‘thinking before you post’ online. This now infamous tweet from US college student-athlete Cardale Jones, is an example that we use in almost every discussion. (Cardale has since apologised for the tweet, yet seems to be forever linked to it.)
Fast forward two years and Cardale Jones is competing at Quarterback for his school, in the first ever American College Football National Championship game (an improbable story in itself).
What helped drive such high levels of engagement in this update was a combination of the topical nature, timeliness, and content (including keywords, hashtags and image) of the tweet.
The above are all key components of a well-planned social media update. The lessons of this tweet are expanded below, and can be applied to your communications efforts online, to help grow the impact and reach of your next update.
The topical nature of the content of the update certainly helped the reach and engagement of this tweet.
Firstly, it was the first ever National Championship in college football, featuring an unlikely (third string) quarterback named Cardale Jones leading one of the teams.
Secondly, the fact that Jones was not a well-known player, also meant that the 2012 infamous tweet had not recently been seen by many twitter users.
Thirdly, football fans (specifically for the competing teams) really cared about this game, their players and the results, to the point where fans were actively sharing, replying, supporting and even questioning the authenticity of the quote in question.
If you are tweeting about your upcoming New Year’s Eve party in June, or Christmas in April, you are unlikely to get the interaction and reach you are after for your update. Why? It’s just not timely.
We timed our tweet to be sent just 12 hours prior to the game in question starting, giving a few people a chance to see it and help spread it online prior to the game and then during peak interest as the game began.
Timeliness was a lesson we learned a few months ago when a Vine we created went viral and amassed over 640k loops and multiple embeds in online news articles in a very short time. We were the first to post it, providing an update to many people who had not seen it live and were desperate to know exactly what was going on: https://vine.co/v/Oh6zLYtDI7h
Hashtags help you spread your update to a broader, relevant, audience who are searching and engaging with similar content online.
We spread the #ThinkBeforeYouPost hashtag on updates that help spread awareness of the message, so adding that to the tweet introduces it to others who use that hashtag.
The other two hashtags are purely related to the National Championship Football game that had the US sports world buzzing, introducing the tweet, and our #ThinkBeforeYouPost example and message to a much broader audience.
Outside of words with hashtags, thinking about what keywords twitter users might search on the platform and strategically incorporating them into your tweet can help increase engagement.
It might seem simple to include the name of the person we are speaking about ‘Cardale Jones’ in the tweet, but if we had only included his twitter handle @CJ12_, nickname, or simply avoided mentioning him specifically altogether, we would not have gained reach and impressions from people searching his name, as they certainly were.
Tweets with images receive greater interaction, are eye-catching, and can help tell your story when space (and characters) is limited.
Among thousands of tweets that featured the #CFBPlayoff and #UOvsOSU hashtags, simply rewriting, cutting and pasting, or linking to the text and tweet update, would not have the same eye-catching impact.
Finally, and this is not one that we followed in this instance, but is a proven strategy for increased engagement, think about the amount of characters you use.
Leaving characters on the table (EG: using less than your allotted 140 characters for a tweet) is sometimes hard to do, but it provides your audience an opportunity to respond with a ‘retweet and reply’, adding their own commentary as they share it to their community. The less text you can use to clearly communicate your message, the better.