Jul 14, 2011

Five Tips For Tweeting Press Releases & Other Content

Twitter’s role in spreading news and information is undeniable – more than any other social network, Twitter was built for the relay of information.  The audience Twitter has attracted revels in the consumption and sharing of news, and as a result, Twitter is enmeshed in the workflows of many journalists, bloggers …. and PR professionals. However, there’s more to using Twitter to spread the word than simply writing one tweet.  Tactics that can help expand the audience for your message include:

  •  Tweet all the angles of the content to maximize interest in your message. Press releases, white papers, blog posts and case studies often contain multiple angles.  Find and tweet them all.   Additionally, if the content includes infographics, photos or video, you can tweet those separate elements.
  • Spread multiple tweets out over time, to expose the content to the broadest possible audience.  Remember that for many, Twitter is a real-time news service.  Timing matters.
  • Use correct and effective hashtags to make your content easy to find.  Take the time to research and identify (and then use!) the hashtags used by others when discussing the topic you’re tweeting.
  • Structure the content to be Twitter-friendly.  Encourage others to tweet your messages by offering plenty of ‘tweetable tidbits’ like bullet points and well-edited headings.
  • Encourage re-tweets (RTs) by keeping tweets short.  Pithy tweets are catchy, and leave plenty of room to accommodate others re-tweeting the message.

Tweet all the angles

Instead of simply tweeting a headline, find multiple angles, and tweet those.  By doing so, you’ll broaden the appeal of the content you’re promoting, by exposing different storylines to your audience.  An influential blogger might ignore one tweet, but find another that surfaces a different aspect to the story interesting.

  • Tweet the facts/findings/tips your content offers separately.
  • Turn quotes into @mentions. If the content contains quotes from people who are already on Twitter, paraphrase those quotes in a tweet, and include the quoted person’s Twitter handle. (E.g. “Don’t tweet headlines, tweet angles says @sarahskerik {link to story})
  • If you post related video to YouTube, or have an accompanying infographic, you can tweet those elements separately.

 

Spread your tweets out

While I’m not a fan of automating tweets, scheduling them does have its place.  Often, when I’m promoting a white paper or other content on Twitter, I’ll spend some time writing a series of tweets about the content (using my own “tweet all angles” tip,) and I’ll schedule them across a day or two.   Dumping all of the tweets into the stream at once would achieve little – the same people would see my series of tweets.  Spreading them out over time means I expose my messages to more people as they dip into and out of their Twitter streams.   Search engines also surface tweets, and they look for timeliness of the content.  Spreading tweets out – especially if they are all pointing to the same URL – can help give you a little lift in search results, too.

Use correct and effective hashtags

Hashtags make the sea of information on Twitter navigable – they are how information is organized on Twitter.  Using appropriate and relevant hashtags gives your audience one more means by which they can find your message. You can identify potential hashtags by searching Twitter for your topic, and then scanning tweets to see what hashtags are used.  It’s always wise vet specific hashtags by searching them to ensure your messages will be seen in the type of company you want to keep.

Structure the content to be Twitter friendly

I’ve offered advice on this topic previously, but it is worth repeating.  You can encourage others to tweet your content by making it easy and appealing to do so.  Tight headlines, a well-edited list of bullet points and interesting, pithy quotations will make your content easy (and interesting) for others to tweet.

Related reading: Writing a Tweetable Press Release

Suggested tweets:

I’m of two minds regarding suggesting language for others to tweet.   On the one hand, providing a little direction can help spread the exact message your organization wants to convey.  On the other hand, avid Twitterers like writing their own messages.  My conclusion:  Go ahead and offer language for suggested tweets.  Those who want to re-write the message will, while others may appreciate having the tweet written for them.

At the minimum, always provide relevant hashtags and a short URL for others to reference in their tweets.  And make sure the tweets you suggest are short and well-written!

There’s a decided art to writing a Tweet, however, requiring a fine balance between sparkling creativity, ruthless editing and a feel for the audience’s interest.   What other tips would you add to this list?

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media.

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