Why do some tweets begin collecting dust as soon as they're posted while others go viral? With 500 million tweets sent per day, your tweets are competing with a lot of voices. But by borrowing a simple copy writing trick from the best-known advertising agencies in the world, you can craft the kind of tweet that gets liked, re-tweeted, and noticed.
Twitter Tip: Write 140-Character Advertisements
What is a "better tweet?" Great tweets grab attention, generate interest, and make the reader want to know more. You may have learned dozens of Twitter tips on how to write a tweet, but writing better tweets starts with how you think about them. The bottom line: if you want to stand out on Twitter, you've got start thinking of each tweet as a mini-advertisement. Whether you're promoting a product, a service, or yourself, each tweet you write should be arresting, well crafted, and engaging. Think that's a tall order for only 140 characters? Not if you apply an ad writing formula that's been selling everything from cars to laundry detergent for the past fifty years.
AIDA: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action
AIDA is an acronym that has been around the advertising world for decades. It stands for ATTENTION, INTEREST, DESIRE, ACTION, describing the ideal sequence of events a potential customer goes through when seeing an ad. Great tweets are, in essence, 140 character advertisements, and good ones use the same formula.
ATTENTION and INTEREST
The "A" and the "I" in AIDA should go hand in hand because, let’s face it, it’s fairly easy to get someone’s attention, but that alone is not enough. Transforming momentary attention into sustained interest is what will lead to someone engaging with what you’ve got to say. Attention and interest can be sustained by the use of what is called a “hook.” Start your tweet with something that attracts attention and makes the reader want to know more. For example, if you've written a book and you're embarking on a social media marketing campaign in the hopes of selling more copies, how should your tweets be written?
Starting a tweet with “Read my book” or “My new book” neither attracts attention nor generates much reader interest, unless the reader is your mother. But “How I sold 100,000 widgets in 4 weeks” for a book on marketing or “7 billion people in the world & none of them are dating you” for a book on dating get attention and maintain interest. In the first case, the tweet grabs attention by using statistics and in the second by using humor. In both cases, the tweets speak to the reader's desires to sell more or to find love. They work by getting the reader to stop and read, and by being tantalizing enough to make the reader think about spending just a bit more time understanding the message contained in the tweet.
DESIRE and ACTION
The D and A in AIDA are also linked, in that creating desire should result in action. In the case of a tweet, the action you’re after is a click on the link or a re-tweet. Creating desire is an art, but it should always begin with knowing your audience. Who is the tweet intended for? Romance novel readers? Then begin by answering the question “Why do people read romance novels?” For diversion? To be swept into another world that is very different from their own? Once you understand your audience, you can begin to craft a message that responds to their desires.
Speaking to your audience’s desires is a critical point to keep in mind, on Twitter and in any promotional or marketing effort. When thinking about how to write better tweets, keep in mind the feature vs benefit rule. Rather than describe the product’s features, describe its benefits to your target audience. For example, instead of saying a store is open 24 hours a day (feature), a savvy marketer might say that you can shop whenever it’s convenient for you (benefit.) To create desire and then action, you must make the reader understand how what you're offering can help them in a real way. Note: It's always a good idea to be specific about what you want the reader to do. "Click on link" or "Visit my website" work well in web ads. In tweets, the action is implied (click on the link in the tweet) but if you have room, you might want to add phrases that make it easy for desire to transform into action.
AIDA for Personal Branding Tweets
What about tweets that aren't selling anything? You can write better tweets using the AIDA formula in ANY tweet, even those that don't have a link or selling message. Attention and interest are generated in the same way as in tweets with a link to a product or service, but desire and action are directed toward you, the tweeter. If your aim is to consistently write great tweets that create an image or "brand" for yourself, then the desire your tweets generate should be a desire to know more about you, and the action you are after is a follow.
AIDA in Action
The Volkswagen Beetle advertisements of the 1960s, created by Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB), are some of the most iconic ads in history and are examples of how AIDA works. The spare photo and simple, unexpected headlines attract attention and interest, while the copy that describes the rejection of a car by Volkswagen inspectors because of a slightly damaged bumper uses soft sell to communicate quality and create desire. Following these ads in 1960, the Beetle became the best selling car of all time.
A series of print ads for Israeli retailer Steimatzky Books, created by ACW Grey Tel Aviv, uses arresting visuals and humor for immediate attention. Humor is also used to tap into avid readers’ affection for books in general and to create desire. The campaign is an excellent example of knowing your audience (habitual, lifelong readers) and of speaking directly to their desire for books that are so good, they make you stay up all night reading. The ads also promote the societal importance of books and reference the pleasurable reading experiences of the target audience.
Great Tweets That Use AIDA
In this tweet from the Ford motor company, the phrase “Have you heard?”attracts attention, while the use of “revealed” makes the introduction of a new car sound exciting, creating desire. Why is this a better tweet? Because it hits all the elements of AIDA, in under 140 characters.
Author Augusten Burroughs uses Twitter to showcase his personality. These Tweets are not directly promotional, but they use humor and subject matter for attention and interest. The humor also creates desire…in this case, the desire to see if his books are as funny as his Twitter feed.
One of the people I help with social media is actor PJ Marshall, who appears on a television show about the Underground Railroad. When the U.S. Treasury announced that Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman would appear on the new $20 bill, the network asked actors on the show to tweet about the news. I helped PJ write this tweet, which uses short, emotional words to attract attention and create interest. It was also written with audience in mind - those who watch the show. This tweet was liked and re-tweeted hundreds of times and was also featured in several magazine stories about the show.
Other Rules for How to Write Better Tweets
Keep it Short:
If 140 characters seems short to you, I've got some bad news. Shorter tweets (about 110 characters) show an engagement rate that's 17% higher than longer tweets.
Twitter engagement rates soar when tweets include images. Twitter's own research shows that there is a 150% increase in re-tweets when an image is added to a tweet.
No Hard Sell:
Twitter, like all social media, is based on exchange and reciprocity. For it to work well, it should involve giving and taking. Instead of going to Twitter only when you have something to sell, see if you can also contribute…useful articles, graphics, re-tweets or amusing lines that have nothing to do with marketing. There is a fine line between being proactively promotional and annoying.
The Golden Twitter Rule is DON’T OVER-PROMOTE.
5 Tweets a Day:
Studies of “optimal” numbers of Tweets per day put the number at 5. After 5 tweets, engagement drops off. If you’re Tweeting 5 times a day, only 3 of them should be promotional.
Now that you know the rule, it’s even more important to make those 3 promotional Tweets a day count.
Need More Ideas on How to Write Better Tweets?
Contact me to talk about how I can help you with social media marketing, personal branding on social media and Twitter tips.