The Powerful Twitter Tactic 73% of You Aren’t Using

By on | Posted in Content Promotion

twitter-tactic-header

Some things are so simple they end up getting ignored. Sometimes, though, these simple strategies that end up getting ignored are so powerful that the fact that they’re getting ignored warrants a blog post. This is that blog post.

In the past two weeks, I gave the same Twitter recommendation to three of our clients. A recommendation that, as someone frequently using Twitter, I thought was obvious.

Then I started looking into more blogs online, and I realized that something I thought was obvious was being done at an alarmingly low clip – thereby creating the realization that something that seems obvious might not be.

This realization is the usage of the Tweet button syntax on blogs.

Analyzing Tweet Structure

When you go to share a post from the Tweet button (such as this one), you’ll get a popup on Twitter with a default tweet structure that is defined by the business.

For example, this post will look like this by default:

siege1

To me, this is by far the most optimal solution. The reasons for this are as follows:

  • It has a descriptive title that, as a marketer, I thought deeply about and want used based on the belief that it will have a better click-through rate than random other selections people may use
  • It has a clean and good looking title, which will not require editing due to ugly syntax, therefore lowering tweet friction
  • It includes our Twitter account, which improves the probability that the person tweeting the article will follow our account
  • It includes our Twitter account, which improves the probability that people seeing the tweet will follow our account
  • It includes our Twitter account (and URL as a bonus), which leverages our brand – which, if we have a positive brand perception, may lead to more clicks

This tweet structure is incredibly powerful because it’s an important setup for a marketing flywheel. A marketing flywheel is the impact of gaining one more follower than yesterday – in short, starting the next day with two readers instead of one.

This impact creates an amplification impact that becomes a must for any business over time – the businesses that don’t use it end up promoting a new piece to a unique audience every time, rather than an established one – an extremely risky strategy that likely will end up in a losing game for most businesses.

Evaluating Misused Structures

When you browse around the web, you will get all of these tweet syntax structures at various points. Let’s break down why they might not be the best for you to use (if you’re currently using them). 

siege2

This tweet contains no Twitter account call to action which lowers the amount of followers you will receive from this tweet. It’s also possible your post would have received more clicks if you included your Twitter account and your brand had a positive reputation in your vertical. Thus, it’s not the worst choice ever, but in my opinion, still far from optimal.

siege4

siege4

These tweets use the title tag rather than the actual post title as the URL structure. Having the title tag as the syntax is simply not necessary for tweets and will often cause many Twitter users to rewrite the tweet, which can either make them A) use a suboptimal title or B) experience friction which may cause them to not tweet the article.

siege6

Not using the post title means that the tweet will be completely non-descriptive to the reading audience, likely giving them very little reason to click the link unless they have an extremely high regard for the person tweeting, which they probably don’t if they tweet out links like this.

siege7

siege8

Using Twitter accounts like WordPress or mentioning people and/or businesses that add very little context to the post? Not a great idea.

siege9

Yes, I saw this in my research – the double URL usage really has no point, but compounds the reality that some businesses just aren’t getting their social media strategy down pat.

Analyzing the Current Business Blog Environment

To verify the hypothesis that many people are using tweet structure incorrectly, we analyzed 500 blogs and their use of tweet syntax. We tried to stick to blogs that had commercial intent and seemed to care about blogging and getting more eyeballs on their content (that is, were frequently updated).

We skipped blogs that didn’t include a tweet button, under the belief that we couldn’t pass judgement on those companies who deliberately decided not to include them. We also avoided marketing blogs under the belief they weren’t a representative sample of the larger blogging population, although some still ended up in the analysis.

At the end of the analysis, we found that business blogs aren’t using the Tweet button correctly more than 73% of the time.

optimal-tweeting-graph

If you’re interested, we’ve included the data below for your analysis and consumption. You’ll find many recognizable companies.

Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 2.43.15 PM

Not every company, of course, is rigorously picking apart their Twitter sharing structure, so many of these will differ in just how important it is that they get it right. However, I don’t think there’s an argument that it wouldn’t help somewhat, and for something that’s so easy to change, it should be a no-brainer.

Looking for Problems That Aren’t Easy to See

The 73% number was larger than I originally thought it would be – but it should be no shocker that many companies can miss the small details that make a big difference in their business. I believe this gets missed a lot because it’s a “beneath the surface” site element – one that many will miss if they’re not looking close enough.

We found a few crazy examples in our research, showing that while many companies are just slightly off, others are completely missing the boat. The success of a website sometimes comes down to more than what you see on the surface – as the cliché goes, it’s often what’s on the inside that counts, and it frequently comes to bear with the Twitter setup on these blogs.

Editors Note: After getting several questions in the comments and elsewhere about how exactly to go about setting this up, we created a simple how-to guide which you can see here.

  • http://www.mikewilton.com/ Mike Wilton

    I think a lot of this stems from people using widgets and plugins to power their share features. I had sharethis setup and hard coded into one of my sites and had it make sure it did the @username, but something changed at some point and it defaulted back to @sharethis and I never knew. So all those times people were tweeting our content I never knew other than from the numbers on the site.

    I think this happens to a lot of blogs. They get plugins, or whatever setup to share their content and then update it every time a new update rolls out and never think to check it. As such settings get tweaked, set to default, or not set at all leading to a terrible share experience.

    • rosshudgens

      Yup, good points Mike. It just goes to show that tools like ShareThis aren’t that reliable. If you’re really serious about a consistent marketing strategy, you should probably use individually-coded buttons.

      • onreact

        I think ShareThis specifically is not a good choice. Some tools are pretty nifty IMHO. AddThis for example looks better.

  • http://bradsknutson.com/ Brad Knutson

    Just like Mike said, I think a lot of this stems from widgets and plugins. It’s much easier for those who don’t understand HTML (or PHP for that matter) to use a widget like ShareThis or Digg Digg – but it doesn’t necessarily provide the best solution.

    In WordPress, this markup for a Tweet button if used in a post template would produce the result you mentioned as the most optimized. It will auto-insert the Post title (not the HTML title as you mentioned), and the current permalink. I chose the big Tweet button with vertical counter, but it doesn’t matter what size or orientation you choose.


    <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-url="<?php echo get_permalink( $post->ID ); ?>" data-text="<?php echo get_the_title(); ?>" data-via="TwitterHandleGoesHere" data-related="TwitterHandleGoesHere" data-count="vertical">Tweet</a>
    <script>!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+'://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');</script>

  • Brandon Seymour

    Awesome post, Ross! This is something I’m guilty of myself and have noticed on several blogs. Also, good points, Mike. I’ll definitely be re-configuring my syntax tonight :)

  • http://rachelhoweconsulting.com/ Rachel Howe

    Nice post Ross! I’m surprised at the percentage of companies are using the Twitter button improperly, although, it shows an opportunity for people like us to help! Thanks for sharing!

  • http://unbounce.com Tia K

    Thanks for doing this analysis, Ross! You’re right, that JC Penney example is crazy and surprising—but shows even big brands need to learn about social sharing optimization.

    Also interesting to mention (I noticed this because I use it): the Buffer Chrome extension seems to choose a version much like the second in your example (see attached image). It also doesn’t add the Twitter handle (which I know they’re aware of and working towards).

    The same thing happened when I tested the Sprout Social extension so I’d imagine it’s likely the case with many other social media publishing tools. Not much you can do there I guess except make sure you keep your headline concise if possible and your business name in the title.

    Great piece that I’ll gladly share.

    • http://stephanhov.com/ Stephan Hovnanian

      RE: Buffer & Sprout (and I think HootSuite too), you can select the text you want in your tweet before clicking the bookmarklet. It loads up instead of the title.

      • http://unbounce.com Tia K

        Ah yes of course—I do that sometimes too when quoting sections. Forgot! Hopefully that @ mention part gets figured out eventually :)

        • Courtney Seiter

          You can also quickly add the “via” with Buffer’s autocomplete. Hopefully that helps a little!

          P.S. Awesome post, Ross!

  • erickwrites

    Hi Ross,

    My question would be about hashtags. Why are they often not included, and do you think including them would be beneficial? I’m a huge fan of hashtags, as they help me keep track of conversations.

    Erick

    • rosshudgens

      Hey Erick, I don’t think they would. While hashtags may help you keep track of conversations, they can annoy others and to me, often look like a cheap attempt at getting a few more eyeballs on content. You can track posts simply by searching for your domain name, for example, I monitored this post by searching for “siegemedia”, which helps me find people sharing the URL even if they modify the title. The hashtag would have been an unnecessary add-on.

      They have value in other situations but when they can only annoy the people sharing such in these instances, I don’t think the marginal benefit is worth it.

  • http://www.detoffol.com/ Scott DeToffol

    If you use WordPress and the Sharing feature of the JetPack plugin, here is another plugin that adds “via @username” to the end of the tweet: http://wordpress.org/plugins/jetpack-twitter-via/

  • http://www.tontebo.com/ Talking With Tonte

    Very good analysis here, definitely gave me something to think about

  • http://www.diannahuff.com/ Dianna Huff

    Thanks for this. I didn’t know you could add your name to the Twitter sharing button.

  • Troy Vest

    Here’s my concern. More often than not the above “correct” structure inhibits the tweeter from including commentary, call to action, etc…basically keeping their voice from being heard as part of the communication. Thoughts?

  • Keith Agnew

    Really Great Ross – thanks for the insight.

  • Jon Hogg

    Hi Ross. Anything to back up the assumption that your structure gets more clicks?

    (Alsp I can’t find a tweet button on this page?! I’m on mobile)

    • http://www.siegemedia.com/ Barbara Holbrook

      Hi Jon, The tweet button is directly below the main content and above the comments section. It should be inline with the other social buttons.

  • http://www.Date2Relate.Com/ Date2Relate

    Why is it that sometimes the smallest things can make all the difference? One copy of this gem sent to our bookmarks and a second copy forwarded to our developer. Chances are this will be new to him notwithstanding his years of experience. BTW thank you..

  • Rick Skidmore

    Need to follow up with a “How To” on setting this up, unless I missed it.

  • Ritesh Pandey

    Hello, it is best blog to share information and blog is so nice post it is good.

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