A Writer’s Guide to Getting Your Work Noticed on Twitter
Updated: May 15, 2020
In the writing world, one of the most powerful platforms for promoting your content is Twitter. While every platform has a lot of value to pull organic traffic, Twitter is where you can really reach new, interested readers daily.
It comes down to Twitter’s ability to connect people on a personal level, with an incredible emphasis on community and conversation to fuel the engine of the platform. It also doesn’t hurt that there is an extremely vibrant writing community on Twitter, which is incredibly supportive, always willing to engage.
Shoutout to the #writingcommunity.
Before we dive into the structural makeup of your promotional Twitter copy, I do want to quickly touch base on what you should expect when using this platform.
The Unwritten Rules of Twitter
First and foremost, let’s set the expectation that whenever you write a tweet promoting your content, it will almost assuredly not go viral.
Posts can get a lot of interactions, sure, but they really shouldn’t be expected to blow up like other viral tweets. At the end of the day, you are promoting your work, which gives your tweet a much less genuine tone.
Tweets that go viral are generally incredibly relatable or witty; imagine a joke from a standup routine. Last time I checked, most stand-up routines don’t include self-promotion.
Don’t let this discourage you; your tweets don’t have to go viral to be a success. You want to reach the people who will engage with your work, which means appealing to the masses isn’t as important. Keep this in mind as you set goals for Twitter, or else you’ll feel like you’re always doing something wrong.
The second point I want to touch on is Twitter’s posting culture. On Facebook or Instagram, you really aren’t posting content more than once. Maybe over a long period, but frankly, if you post the same article three times a day on Facebook, people will always consider it spam.
Unlike any other social media site, it is much more acceptable to repeatedly post your work by tweeting.
While there is no hard and fast rule here, I suggest finding a routine that works for you. I’ve been told to post once every hour, but to me, that seems a bit over the top, even for Twitter.
In my old communications position, we posted the same content twice a day for usually three days straight, then once again the following week. The point is, find something that works for you; just be okay with posting more than once.
All right, now expectations have been set, let’s get into the structure and content of your copy.
Properly Utilizing Hashtags and Tagging
Imagine twitter hashtags and tagging as a window into your work. These are the two prime opportunities people have to see your writing, so there is a lot to emphasize when correctly using them.
First off, use popular hashtags. The simple rule here is to treat hashtags like writing tags, as you would use when posting content. Common hashtags I use are #writing, #design, #writingcommunity, #self, #mentalhealth, and #productivity. Obviously, these need to be adjusted to reflect your topics, but just remember to keep it general to cast a wider net.
If you can use trending hashtags, all the better, but don’t awkwardly force it into your copy. Once you know what hashtags to include, it’s time to build them into your caption. Unlike the common practice on LinkedIn and Instagram, it’s much better to include hashtags in your caption, as opposed to spamming them at the end.
This will make your copy feel more genuine and give context to why the hashtag is being used, thus intriguing the potential reader.
When it comes to tagging, building them into your caption is excellent but less critical. Your goal with tagging should be to shout out to anyone involved in your work, whether it is the publisher, copy editor, inspiration, etc.
Because of this goal, feel free to just throw tags at the end of your caption, as the readers don’t really need context as to why they are tagged.
Tagging is an entirely reasonable thing to do on twitter. Just, for the love of everything, don’t spam tags of like twenty accounts. This is transparently shallow and will earn you an unfollow pretty quick.
Once you know what hashtags and tags you want to include, you need to create some engaging caption copy.
How to Push the Click-Through Rate
So we have created a compelling window into the post, but now we want people to climb through said window? There are many different strategies when it comes to increasing your click-through rate, all sharing a common denominator.
It’s all about creating a sense of urgency. When people read your copy, they need to be pushed to read your article promptly. You can accomplish this in several ways.
Sell people on the idea that reading your article will improve their current situation, whatever it is. If you can convince someone they will gain something from your post, they will likely read it.
Reference a current event with an opinion creating an emotional response. Good or bad, people will likely read something that is currently happening if they have any kind of personal investment in it. Everyone wants to read opinions that matter to them in the now.
Quote your article, just enough to make people wonder what context that quote is based around. This will entice them to read the article to understand further, instead of scrolling past wondering.
Like all things, there is a line, and if you cross it, likely people may roll their eyes at obvious clickbait. Find that line by trying different captions and seeing what resonates on the platform.
In terms of structure, your opening sentence should be all about creating this urgency to press people to click through your articles. The following sentence can then freely include context to your shoutouts or add more context to the article itself, whatever you feel fits.
Twitter is a fickle social media beast and will involve a lot of attempts to get into the hang of things.
It’s the ultimate test of persistence as you’ll never see any real affirmation you’re doing anything right. Trust that the most important aspect of Twitter is consistency, and once you get into the swing of promoting your work, you’ll wonder why you ever waited to use this platform.