5 Ways to Boost Your Retweets

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April 23rd, 20110 »

5 Ways to Boost Your Retweets

By now, thousands of freelancers tweet, growing their brand and connecting with others 140 characters at a time. It’s an important tool for promoting your freelance business. And one of the most powerful aspects of promotion on Twitter is to get retweeted (or RT in Twitterspeak).

It’s the Twitter equivalent of forwarding an email or sharing a link you enjoyed in Facebook. RTs benefit freelancers by helping them spread content, grow their followers, and position themselves as experts. So, how can you help ensure that your tweets get retweeted and (hopefully) go viral? Follow these tips.

Focus on Quality

Just as people hate getting one of those email forwards with a silly story that has no relevance to their lives, people on Twitter appreciate tweets and links that offer useful and relevant insights. Yes, humor is a popular strategy but try to use humor to make a point instead of humor for humor’s sake. Almost everyone on Twitter is interested in how to tweet better, so Twitter-focused posts are often widely shared. Ditto on posts relating to social media, although that topic may border on over-done these days.

Think in Headlines

In addition to the quality of your content, the other thing that gets people to RT is an intriguing headline. Lists are often popular. For instance, this post describes how an article called 10 Most Common Writing Mistakes was tweeted over two thousand times! That headline also proved popular because of its clarity, specificity, and its targeting of people who want to earn money writing.

Other popular techniques include writing headlines that include a question, quote, or provoke debate. But keep it relevant because readers don’t appreciate sensationalism or headlines that promise something not delivered in the accompanying link. Throw in a few too many unrelated Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga references just to get clicks and you’ll lose credibility faster than Gaga changes looks.

Keep It Short

RTs usually include a string of people who’ve already shared that tweet (the Twitter method of attribution), so if you tweet something that’s already approaching 140 characters, it’s harder for people to RT with your Twitter name if they have to get creative and shorten your tweet. Not everyone has the patience for this, so do them (and yourself) a favor by staying closer to 100 characters. Shorten links using a service like ow.ly or tiny.cc. The latter allows you to choose a custom URL which can help brand your tweet with a keyword.

Ask for Retweets

Some people disagree with the idea that you should ask for retweets. But plenty of others will tell you it’s a highly effective strategy. In fact, Dan Zarrella analyzed the top 10,000 most RT’ed tweets in his database and found that the “please retweet,” “please,” and “please RT” were among the most commonly RT’ed phrases. I’d use this strategy judiciously, though, asking for retweets on one or two posts per week that you feel have the most potential to go viral. That way you’re not constantly asking followers for RTs, which could lose its impact.

Be Generous

If you RT the interesting and relevant content of others, they’re more likely to reciprocate by sharing your content. The other benefit of RTs is that even if you’re not the original creator of the tweet, your followers will often include your Twitter handle when they RT you. And if you have an interesting Twitter handle (for instance WebWizard2011 instead of JWSmith), their followers may get curious and follow you.

Want to learn more about RTs? Dan Zarella’s Science of Retweets presentation offers some interesting data, as does this graph showing the optimal times of day for RTs.

What’s worked for you? Do you agree or disagree with these tips?

Photo credit: Some rights reserved by Gopal Raju.