5 Ways to Make Your Tweets Work Harder
1 ... I'm Not Even Going to Say "Include an Image" - but are they working hard enough for you?
If you don't know by now that you really must include an image, then I give up - surely we all know this one by now.
But there's more ... images are great ways to attract attention, but if that's all they're going you're not getting them to work hard enough. If the image is there to convey information in itself - for example, it's a graph or infographic, then having an image-click simply enlarge the image is fine.
In this tweet below the image is a screenshot to illustrate the point being made. Being able to enlarge the image gives us more information, and the link to click through to the content is clear.
However, if the image is just there to attract attention - and clicking it just gives you a bigger image - you really need to consider learning your META tags.
With the right META tags in the content you are linking to, the image will be automatically picked up by Twitter, and the user can then click it to get through to the content.
2 ... Learn Your META tags
If you post a URL, Twitter, like most other social media platforms, supports scanning your page to read in what kind of preview you want displayed for your article - Twitter calls this a "card".
META tags are series of HTML code that is put in the HEADER section of your web page, that give information about the page, that is not displayed when viewing the page itself. Here is an example ...
Most social media platforms support the Open Graph Protocol. This is an agreed standard for the META tags needed for social media platforms to be able to display a media-rich preview when presented with a link to external web content. OGP is, for example, supported by Facebook and LinkedIn.
The example above, "og:image", specifies the image that will be displayed to represent that web content. So if this META tag is placed in the HEADer of a web page, and that web page is published on social media, not only will the image specified be displayed in the preview-card, but users will also be able to click on the image to visit the page.
This makes your image work harder for you. Instead of being just a bit of eye candy, it now forms part of your call-to-action, and gives the users a massive area to click on to get to your content.
Twitter have their own set of META tags, although they are very similar to the standard ones - here is Twitter's image META tag
The others you really must know are title and description - again, prefixed "og:" for Open Graph compatible sites, and prefixed "twitter:" for Twitter.
title - The title that goes immediately under the image - usually in a larger & bolder font
description - Text that gives the reader an idea of what the article is about. By default this is often the opening lines of the content, but it is usually better to make a unique description to go here.
Here are the title and description META tags for the tweet you see above
For META tags the use of "name=" or "property=" should be interchangeable when the META tag is used in the HEADer section of the HTML document.
If you are using a content management system, it should manage these tags for you. For example, articles published on LinkedIn will be automatically given all the META tags they need for all the different social media platforms - but it never hurts to know the nuts & bolts so you can get things fixed if they go wrong.
Twitter also needs some extra META tags to tell it which twitter account created the content and how the card should be displayed.
twitter:site - is the Twitter handle of the owner of the site that holds the content, or the company that owns the content.
twitter:creator - is the Twitter handle of the individual who wrote the content
twitter:card - is the card type. The most typical values are summary_large_image, as shown above, its a large image with the text below. Or summary - which has a smaller image to the left and the text to the right, as below.
These additional META tags are mandatory for Twitter, but will be ignored by other platforms, so you should always include all the Twitter and Open Graph META tags in all documents you may wish to publish on any social media platform.
Note - LinkedIn supports the Open Graph tags, but will not always display the description.
Here is some additional information
3 ... URL shorteners are so 2010, Why are you still using them?
Chances are the answer is to get the tracking. If this isn't the reason then stop using them. Really, stop right now.
The URL is your call-to-action - no self-respecting online marketing guru would every advise a customer to label a button with a call-to-action as lame as bit.ly/2ttiEEu, and yet this considered a usable call-to-action in Twitter - where the average attention span is even less? This is wasting an opportunity and giving nothing to the customer.
One solution is an innovative product called phrases.for.sale from UK start-up Names.of.London - they sell domain names made into natural language phrases that can be used to redirect people to any existing web content. Doesn't Win.with.Marketing sound so much better than bit.ly/2ttiEEu? As well as sounding better, it will get you more click throughs and be far easier for people to remember and tell their friends about. What's more it can be used in all your offline marketing.
You can also prefix the phrase with as many words as you like and Twitter will retain up to 38 characters of the domain name before it starts cutting some off - for example Win.with.Marketing can be expanded to Lets.Go.Out.and.Win.with.Marketing!
By prefixing your phrase with whatever words you like, and adding a little extra code on your web server, its possible for you to effectively run your own URL shortening service based on your phrase which you can then track using Google Analytics.
Now doesn't that work much better as a call-to-action than some random garbage from a URL shortener?
4 ... Make sure I know what I'm meant to be clicking on
If you can't get your META tags right, or the image is there to provide information, then you will need to include a URL in the text of the Tweet if you want to offer people more content.
So make sure it's easy to see. Here's an example of how not to do it...
It takes way too much time to identify where the URL actually is.
Remember, tagging people, and including hashtags in the tweet, is mostly for your benefit, not the reader's.
Some simple white space can be all that's needed
Or add other forms of punctuation or separation to draw attention to the URL
5 ... Post your Articles directly from your Website
If the article, you are posting to social media, is your own original content, host it on your own website and post it directly from there.
Hashtag can be used to get a conversation going, or joining in an existing one, but they lock people into the Twitter Ecosystem. If you want to add value to your business, you need to get people out onto your site. Hosting the article on your own site, and posting it directly from there to social media, is a poerful way to achieve this.
Don't forget, to be able to post directly from your site to social media, before you post, you will need to get your META tags sorted - and I recommend using Twitter's URL-to-card testing tool to at least check your first article, before posting.