Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
December 3, 2008 3:52 PM

How To Be Tweetable

One of the faster growing trends on Twitter is the Retweet. If someone says something remotely profound or links to something that someone else finds interesting, an individual can take that tweet and retweet it to their entire network. Think of it like word of mouth for Twitter. Getting someone to tweet something you say (or do) and then getting additional individuals to retweet it is the highest form of praise and acceptance. 

In traditional print media, one of the best ways to get continued coverage is to give good quote. It's easier said than done. Being able to rise above and be memorable to a journalist who spends their days interviewing countless people for news stories is not easy. There is no cheap and cheerful way to get good at giving quotes. Success comes like everything else: with long, hard work and focus.

In a media and communications saturated world, getting your message to spread means getting smarter at what you're saying and who you are saying it to. This is compounded on Twitter. The river of 140 character insights flows at a frenetic pace, and it's sometimes hard to keep pace in the moment, let alone trying to go backwards to see what you missed.

So, what exactly makes someone tweetable? 

Beyond the obvious interest in breaking news (and Twitter is just getting better and better at being the place for breaking news), most people on Twitter are simply looking for something quick, light and interesting to read or look at. Like a high quality Blog, the ones that are tweetable are the people who are constantly and consistently raising the bar by adding their own insights on top of something that adds value to their own community.

It's about time.

One of the other mitigating factors that gets people all a-tweeting is not just "when" you post, but posting when you know more of your community is likely to be online and looking at the Twitter stream (more on that here: The Twitter Tragedy - Lost In Live). When are the people who are following you most likely to be online and looking at Twitter? If you can focus in on that time, odds are your message will reach more people within in your network.

Think about when it's about you and when it's about them.

People definitely love Twitter for the conversational and permission-based stalking aspect of the community. Talking about yourself is part of what makes Twitter so attractive to your followers (after all, they are following you to hear what's on your mind), but dropping in insights that adds value to them also helps push the conversation forward and builds your community. Twitter works if you can be humble enough to know that you're not going to cure the world in 140 characters. Also, avoid too many spammy and overtly self-promotional messages. You're definitely not going build community and become tweetable with a constant barrage of sales pitches (in fact, constantly pimping your wares is one sure way to kill any chance you have at becoming tweetable).

Be someone worth following.

Twitter is full of so much little content, which is exactly what makes it even more complex to rise above. So, while it may be fast, easy and free to publish your thoughts on Twitter, it's near-impossible to have your messages break through all of that clutter to become tweetable.

Just how tweetable are you? 

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Jason Sarracini
    Mitch Joel

    What is that person saying? Is it unique? Can I gain from it? Will I learn from it? Can I tell my friends & colleagues about him/her/it?

    I retweet if I think my followers will gain from someone they may not be following.

    Reply
  • Posted by Arjun Basu
    Mitch Joel

    I'm just exploring. I'm not doing this for my work, simply uploading what I'm calling Twisters - short stories done at the full 140 characters. But I'm also learning, meeting lots of interesting characters, finding some excellent blogs, checking out great advice about things like social media, marketing, etc. And, frankly, wasting some time. But in all that time wasting, there's always some nuggets of goodness.

    Reply
  • Posted by Laura
    Mitch Joel

    I think this is a very simple thing to understand. Is the person interesting, or boring? In other words, will they fill my Twitter feed with something that benefits me (by teaching, entertaining, whatever) or will it be a waste of my time? And will passing along a message from them reflect well on me, or will it annoy my friends and followers because it's stupid or irrelevant?

    I just got my MrTweet report, which recommended "the top 10 people I needed to follow, but wasn't yet". They're all fascinating and definitely right up my alley. However, adding 10 high volume Tweeters that I don't 1) know in person or through a community or whatever (and so are only vaguely invested in) and 2) were recommended by someone else (an algorithm, technically) and not by my own personal judgment, is totally clogging up the pipes and I'm finding I have to be really judicious about who I continue to read.

    Reply
  • Posted by Sonny Gill
    Mitch Joel

    Great points here Mitch. Biggest takeaway for me in getting the most out of Twitter is providing value to the community. Give back to them, first and foremost, before you go out and tweet/promote your own stuff.

    As you build your network, people will realize that you're a communicator and will be more prone to retweet your links/posts when you lease expect it.

    Reply
  • Posted by ScratchedChalk
    Mitch Joel

    Hey Mitch,

    I think to be followed on Twitter, you need not only to give updates on your personal life (unless that's your intended goal) but rather if your tweets are unique or useful to others.

    I'm a YouTube Guru, and I constantly post videos on new pieces of software or something interesting that happened in the world of tech.

    While technology isn't the biggest thing for some people, I try and give reviews in the simplest form, so other users don't have to read long posts on other news sites.

    I tend to follow users who post more often than others, so you get a small scoop on what's going on with them (it helps to have a Twitter client).

    Great article, I hope to read many more like this!

    Thanks,
    ScratchedChalk

    Reply
  • Posted by Kyle Roussel
    Mitch Joel

    Ditto on the above by Jason.

    Personally I always check a person's bio AS WELL as a portion of their tweet history. If there's a connection between their bio and what their tweets are about, I'll follow them (assuming I'm interested in who they are and what they do).

    That being said, that's how I try to be tweetable. I don't always succeed, but I always try to keep my tweets related to what's in my bio. The people who follow me do so presumably because they expect some kind of value or contribution from me. They're not interested in how I stepped in a puddle or woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

    Reply
  • Posted by Alex
    Mitch Joel

    I look at the bio and then look at a few of the tweets the person has entered. If I find that the messages are really old or irrelevant I may not follow them. It is difficult to gauge exactly how valuable a person is to follow though. I have followed people expecting great content and then seeing they never tweet. Others I have not followed and came back on their page to find some really great links posted. It's a trial and error thing for me.

    Twitter.com/AlexTrottier

    Reply
  • Posted by John Ashton
    Mitch Joel

    The great thing about Twitter is that it's good for all your moods and levels of relevance, articulation, intelligence, triviality or frivolity.
    A few days ago I had this idea that being limited to 140 characters was rather akin to writing haikus - saying something meaningful in just 17 syllables. On tweeting this revelation I was gently admonished by one of my followers who sees Twitter as a medium in which one is not required to be meaningful. The pressure is off.
    I think there is room in Twitter for all levels of levity and gravity, unlike, say, Facebook, which in its presentation seems to discourage more serious content.
    As it happens, I seem to have generated most discussion when I mentioned one of the neighbours cats did spectacular farts and that I bought excellent chicken and ham pies from a local butcher.

    Reply
  • Posted by Jim Turner
    Mitch Joel

    I never really retweeted anything until I found that Tweetdeck made it more simple. Now I retweet more than I did exponentially.

    Reply
  • Posted by frank
    Mitch Joel


    Getting the Rt is kinda like the "Holy Grail" on Twitter ... but I've found it to be a bit challenging. The big names get the RT a lot - they obviously have the respect, trust and large # of followers to make it much more likely. #'s matter in this game - no doubt about that.

    Your point about being online when your community is there seems to be very important. again it comes down to the #'s - the more people that see what you tweet the better your chances of it being RT.

    Tweetdeck definitely makes the RT simpler :)

    At the end of the day we just need to focus on tweeting things that interest others and add value. eventually it will get noticed and the RT's will come.

    --
    http://twitter.com/franswaa

    Reply
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