As a marketing channel, Twitter’s no longer optional. Everyone’s using it, which means you need to be too.

But because everyone’s using it, you can get lost in the crowd. It’s tough to make an impact.

The only way to stand out, is to be really good at Twitter. Your tweets need to be A+. Or even A+++:

Send great tweets to increase your Twitter reach.

Outstanding content is more likely to be retweeted, increasing your reach and audience. Your best bet for increasing Twitter reach is to get more of them, and the best way to do that is to post better content.

To help you out, we’ve put together eight quick tips that’ll make your tweets more twitt-ilating.

Shall we?

1. Know your audience

Hint: It’s not everyone. You want your tweets to hit home with the right people, so you’d better know what those people like.

Brittany Berger wrote all about the benefits of social listening. She says it lets you:

  • Find out what your customers really think
  • Re-evaluate your brand’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Supplement hard data with genuine opinions
  • Get customers’ views of your competitors
  • Find new campaign ideas

Target specific keywords and hashtags that suit your ideal buyer. See what they’re talking about and update your content strategy accordingly.

Great marketers can even use monitoring to generate leads.

Let’s see how they do it.

How to listen

Option 1: get familiar with Twitter’s Advanced Search.

Use Advanced Search on Twitter for detailed listening.

It lets you narrow your search to find exactly what you’re looking for. Like a regular search, but more advanced. If you’re listening for generic terms or popular phrases, this helps you eliminate some of the noise.

The best part is you can save your searches – up to 25 per account. It’s like having custom hashtags, just for you.

Create a handful of useful searches and revisit them each week. This is an easy way to follow conversations in your specific niche.

Option 2: use a monitoring tool. These take all of the work out of social media monitoring.

Set up alerts just like you’d build an advanced search. Receive daily reports about conversations on social media, plus real-time alerts when keywords are trending.

For social media, our favorite tools include Hootsuite, Social Mention, and Mention (of course).

2. Talk with your followers, not at them

Buffer’s Kevan Lee says you need to know the difference between “voice” and “tone.” Think of voice as your brand’s personality – a core part of its identity – and tone as your brand’s mood from day to day. As they explain it:

“Voice is a mission statement. Tone is the application of that mission.”

Voice doesn’t change – this is how you want your brand to be represented, always. But tone changes with context.

You also can’t always be selling. Twitter is a giant chat room. Most people are there for conversation, jokes, or education. You can’t spend all your time talking about yourself.

Here are some suggestions to help you balance promotion with other content:

  • The 80/20 rule: 20% of your content can be promotional, but 80% of your content should be interesting and engaging to your audience.
  • The 5-3-2 ratio: Five relevant pieces from others, three non-promotional from you, then two promotional posts.
  • The 4-1-1 rule: Four pieces from others – plus one retweet – for every promotional tweet you send.

Focus on offering value to your followers – that’s what matters. Choose a ratio that makes sense to you, and try to keep to it.

3. Use relevant hashtags

Hashtags are Twitter’s way of bundling information together by keyword. People following hashtags are interested in that content. If your content suits one, you’ll reach an audience that’s keen to engage with it.

If you want to get the most from hashtags, check out Danielle Prager’s hashtag best practices. Some of her key tips are:

  • Never use more than three hashtags per post.
  • Keep them short. #LongStringsOfWordsAreAnnoying.
  • The more precise, the better.
  • Make them easy to remember and easy to spell.
  • If you’re creating a campaign hashtag, be original.

Finally, a word of warning: don’t try to piggyback on irrelevant hashtags; you’ll look foolish.

4. Know when to tweet

Twitter is time-sensitive. Even with Twitter’s new algorithm, only the beginning of the user’s stream is affected. And it’s optional. That means you’re still relying largely on timing to get your content seen.

It may feel like the whole world is constantly online, but some times of the day are busier than others:

The best times of the day to tweet.

Image courtesy of QuickSprout

Think about television ads. Primetime spots are the most expensive, but they’re not right for every product. Toy brands prefer after-school slots, when their target audience is watching. Likewise, you’ll make the greatest impact on Twitter when your target audience is engaged.

Use tools like Audiense, Followerwonk, and Mention to find out when your target audience is engaged. Prioritize tweeting at these times, for maximum impact.

5. Add calls-to-action

You want engaged followers. Every retweet is an opportunity to reach a whole new audience. But people don’t engage with content just because they feel like it. Tell them what you need from them.

Dan Zarella analyzed over 2.7 million tweets to see which CTAs led to the most retweets:

The best calls to action for retweets

“Help,” “retweet,” “please,” “how to,” and “follow” are among the most retweeted words. If you want to see engaged Twitter followers, you’d better use ‘em.

Twitter power use Madalyn Sklar uses CTAs extensively to boost her posts:

Use calls to action to help increase Twitter reach

Madalyn loves Twitter chats, and CTAs help her spread the word about her #TwitterSmarter

6. Realize less isn’t more

Twitter is a “microblogging” site. It would make sense that Twitter content should be shorter than posts on other social networks. Not exactly.

Buffer and SumAll teamed up to make this monster infographic showing the optimal length for posts on various social networks. For instance, Facebook posts with around 40 characters see the highest engagement. For LinkedIn, that number’s only 25.

The perfect length for social media posts, according to SumAll

Image courtesy of SumAll

Even though Twitter places a premium on characters, the sweet spot for Twitter copy is between 70 and 100 words.

To improve your copy, Cornell University made this funky A/B tester to predict which of two tweets should get more retweets.

7. Use images

Buffer found that pictures triple the rate of retweets, and nearly double the rate of likes. And because images take up Twitter real estate, your message becomes more prominent with a picture.

But what if you don’t have good, original images to share?

Create “quote pictures”

One Twitter study found that pictures lead to 35% more retweets and that quotes increase retweets by 19%. I’m no math magician but 35% + 19% = billions!

Or maybe it doesn’t work like that.

The point is, combine quotes and images for maximum impact.

There are plenty of tools that’ll help you do this. Canva, Pablo (by Buffer), and PicMonkey are all popular choices. Quote pictures are simple to make, and are sure to increase engagement.

8. Be personal

When appropriate, name the person tweeting. It gives a more personal feel to your tweets.

Name the person tweeting to give a personal feel

Harvard Business Review says that “empathy” is the key indicator of whether a company “gets” Twitter or not. They say empathy consists of “reassurance, authenticity, and emotional connection.” Basically, the best brands on Twitter don’t sound like brands. They sound like people.

Your tweets don’t need to save the rainforest (although great party trick, if you know how), you just want to seem human.

So there you have it

Eight quick and easy tips to make your tweets more impactful. Start using them right away.

Oh, and don’t forget to download the checklist for your wall: