blue parrot against a black background
PHOTO: Dominik Lange

In a prior CMSWire article, I wrote about my Twitter journey. I started with a heavy emphasis on sharing content, progressed to more interactions with other users (while simultaneously scheduling tweets) and ended up with a focus of being “in the moment” and using live video.

I love to curate interesting content and Twitter is my primary outlet for sharing discoveries. For this article, I'm putting the car in reverse to focus on the first phase of my journey: sharing content on Twitter.

I’ll provide tips on how to get more engagement from content shares on Twitter. The advice can be applied to both your business brand and your personal brand.

The Importance of Twitter Cards

If you remember just one point from this article, let it be this: “mind the card.” The Twitter Card, that is. According to the Twitter Developer site, “With Twitter Cards, you can attach rich photos, videos and media experiences to Tweets, helping to drive traffic to your website.”

How is this done? According to the same site, “Simply add a few lines of markup to your webpage, and users who Tweet links to your content will have a 'Card' added to the Tweet that’s visible to their followers.”

Most sites, including this one, implement Twitter Card mark-up.

Twitter provides a useful tool called the “Card validator.” Paste the URL of the article you plan to share and you’ll see how the card renders. Here’s an example, where I checked a recent CMSWire article:

twitter card validation test

As you can see, the Twitter Card displays an image, the article title, a short description and the site’s domain (cmswire.com).

Now, let’s get on to a few tips.

Related Article: Marketers Share Strategies for Twitter's New 280-Character Limit

1. Preserve the Twitter Card!

Twitter allows you to attach one or multiple images to tweets. In fact, some scheduling tools “scrape” the article for its images and give you the option of attaching them to the tweet. Don’t do it! When you attach an image, the attachment overwrites the Twitter Card (i.e., they can’t co-exist).

Here’s an example using the same CMSWire article:

While the title is included in my tweet text, the short description and site domain (cmswire.com) are now gone. The Twitter Card gives users more information, which makes them more likely to click on the link. And that’s the other thing: when you click on a Twitter Card, you’re taken to the article. When you click on an image (like the one above), the tweet simply expands.

2. Make Your Tweet Text Unique from the Article Title

Here’s the same tweet as before, but this time, I preserved the Twitter Card:

My tweet text is identical to the article title, which can be seen in the Twitter Card. Since users can already see the title in the Card, my tweet text provides no additional value.

Twitter gives you an opportunity to share your unique point of view, even when tweeting other people’s content. Demonstrate your unique opinion or perspective on the article you're sharing with your followers.

Hint: To do this, you’ll need to read the article in its entirety. Don’t share content based on its title alone.

Related Article: Content Curation: We Can Do Better

3. Use Emojis

While emojis are now common in tweets, they still manage to help tweets stand out in the crowd. Soon enough, everyone will be using them — in fact, I worry about the written word. Take advantage by using emojis now, while the opportunity is there.

In addition to drawing attention, use emojis in a directional manner to drive action (e.g., arrows, pointing fingers, etc.). Andy Crestodina, cofounder of Orbit Media, does a good job of this. Notice how Andy uses the down arrow to direct your attention to the Twitter Card directly below it?

4. Record a Short Video

Record a one minute video where you share a few thoughts about the content you’re sharing. I used to hold up my phone and record myself, until a few people told me they got dizzy from my shaky hand.

Now I use Screencastify (a Chrome plugin) and record from my Chromebook’s built-in webcam. I upload the video file, attaching it to my tweet. When people see my tweet in their feed, the video auto-plays with the sound muted by default. Even if people don’t click on your link, you may get a few seconds of “face time” via the video.

And yes, for the observant readers out there: using video means the Twitter Card does not render.

Related Article: OMG Watch This! How to Make Viral Videos

5. Tag People

I’ve seen a bad practice, where a brand will tag me (and others) in a tweet. I had absolutely nothing to do with the content they’re sharing, but they tagged me in order to get my attention.

Don’t use this tactic.

Instead, tag people when it makes sense:

  • Tag the author(s) of the article.
  • Tag people mentioned in the article.
  • Tag people who’d find the article interesting — in an authentic way, not to simply drive clicks.

The people on the receiving end of your tags will see your tweet in their Notifications area. Often, they’ll engage: click, like, retweet, reply, etc.

Bonus Tip: Forget the Links

I have a pretty active mind, one that goes into overdrive during long walks or long showers. Often a random thought will surface and I’ll share it on Twitter. Sometimes the random thought is a joke. I’ll use Twitter as my test audience (ha!).

It’s one of my favorite aspects about Twitter: put some randomness out into the universe and see what happens. Here’s an example of a random thought (e.g., about writing) that got some reactions:

Since this article was all about Twitter, now it’s your turn. Take to Twitter and let me know which tip connected most with you. Or, just leave me a random thought. I’m @dshiao.