Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Twitter for Writers: How to Construct Tweets that Get Re-Tweeted, Part 1

Have you been noticing how you are drawn to some tweets more than others? Tweeps (people who tweet) who get re-tweeted present the information they are posted in an appealing way and/or they choose topics that are popular with people at a certain time (trending). In this post I will begin the conversation on re-tweetable posts and continue it in two weeks.

What is a Tweet?

1) In 140 characters (spaces count as characters) you try to grab a reader’s attention.
That’s not a lot of room to express yourself. We novelists are used to mounds of words we can roll around in and toss about like fallen leaves. It took me a while to get the innate sense of how much to write and to develop some strategies.

If you tried tweeting your own content, you might have noticed the countdown in the Twitter message box. You’ll get better. For now, modify the message into two messages or use abbreviations. When splitting in two end one with ... and begin the continuation with …  That is the shorthand that tells tweeps there is more than one part.

One huge help for me was I tweeted a lot of recipes using Maureen Evans, author of Eat Tweet, as my guide. Every once in a while, I have to break the recipe into two parts, but mostly I get it in one. Here’s an example from @Good2Tweat (the food/culinary mystery focus is where I got my Twitter handle):

Gelato 2cmlk/1c cr+4egylk/.5csug Beat egz/sug 2 froth Wrm mlk/cr 2 foamy Slo por egz n2 mlk Ck 2 thck Sieve Chil ovnit N2 icecr mach Srv~4

Can you read it? Tweets often use abbreviations to save space. So while it is better to write whole words, people sort of expect the abbreviations.

2) When writing tweets, engage the reader with a question or provocative statement.
I wrote a post right before Halloween for “Romance Righter” on hybristophilia, a mental condition of women who fall in love with monstrous men. It was re-tweeted that week a moderate amount. But in mid-November, a young woman announced she was marrying Charles Manson. I re-posted my tweets and they went crazy. Lots and lots of re-tweets and many more blog post views! Here’s one:

Puzzled over young woman marrying Charles Manson? She’s probably a hybristophiliac #amwriting http://angelicafrench.blogspot.com/2014/10/women-who-love-monsters-not-just-any.html

Here’s one I tweeted during the holidays:

I am anti-Elf on the Shelf and so is she #ShareBlogPost http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2874808/Elf-Shelf-conditions-children-accept-surveillance-state-argues-professor.html

Both tweets share a common element: an attempt to engage the reader. That is a basic element in writing tweets people click the link on and/or retweet.

3) Maximize the potential to be noticed.
Use # sign (hashtags I posted about in December) to call attention to yourself to get followed and re-tweeted by people with like interests.

4) Tweet throughout the day to get to your followers in different time zones.
However, if you can only tweet twice, the recommendation I read is 9 am and 4 pm. You want people to begin noticing you. Irregular tweeting doesn’t build followers.

5) There are two ways to post tweets.
There’s a little feathery thing in the upper right of your tweet feed. You can click that to post a tweet. Or, and this is what I do, you can put your tweet into the box at the top of your feed labeled “What’s happening?”

6) Shorten the link you are tweeting to save space and keep tweet from looking cluttered.
For example, you want to tweet the link to a book title sold on Amazon.

These are two of the most used link-shorteners. The first is far and above the most used tweet shortener, but choose whatever you like best.


Here’s the link I wanted to tweet for my friend Kathy Weyer’s book Stitches, her women’s fiction novel:

That’s a bunch, isn’t it? Shortened on bitly.com, it came out like this:

What a difference, eh?

7) What to do if retweeted or put in an on-line newspaper.
Common courtesy says we should thank people who RT tweets. But that really clutters your Twitter feed.
I don’t thank everyone, but a frequent RTer gets two things from me: a periodic TY and re-tweets of that person’s content.  Replying to my frequent RTers also gets me in front of their followers eyes.

I always thank a newspaper for including my tweet in the paper and I refer to the content in the reply. I get lots of followers that way.

Don’t just RT, engage. People will ask you questions or reply to one of yours. Engaging with them makes you more likely to be re-tweeted.

More on how to tweet and tips in two weeks.

Next week we have a guest poster! Sue Raajtkes will be here to share “Writing is Not for Wimps”. Be sure to pop in and see what she has to say.


  1. Great tips I'm ready to put to use, thank!

    1. Good for you! I am a believer, as you can see.