Creating large followings on Facebook and Twitter have the potential to launch you, your company or your brand to another plane of online popularity. Both social networks are enormous, but they are two very different animals and cannot be approached in the same way.
In order to understand how to shape a successful post on either one of these platforms, we must first examine the major differences between Facebook and Twitter.
Facebook has more than 800 million users, but individuals take to Facebook to interact with friends. They comment, tag and like pictures and status updates, but it's all about sparking a conversation and keeping it going. Lengthy conversations have an added bonus of being displayed on the front page's Top Stories, which further encourages more likes, comments and click-throughs.
Twitter is less of a network and more of a selective feed. The user gets status updates from people they care about and want to see, but since Twitter is essentially one forever-long list of updates, every post matters. Too many posts at a time from one person is a distraction, and users can easily unsubscribe from a Twitter account to make their feed less cluttered. With thousands upon thousands of users with funny or informative things to say, Twitter users have no patience for spam.
Facebook is driven by real people; Twitter is driven by celebrities and brands. With this in mind, here are some different strategies to take when posting to each social network.
Tips for Writing an Attractive Facebook Post:
- Short is sweet: Concise is key. Studies show that Facebook posts with 80 characters or less receive 66 percent higher fan engagement, and posts that are less than 40 characters in length receive 86 percent higher engagement. Only write what is necessary: Unlike Twitter, Facebook displays links within the post, so don't repeat any information from the link's title or body. This space is perfect for questions or quotes.
- Ask questions: People are twice as likely to comment on a question post as a non-question post. Be creative, and find a way to get the conversation rolling. The best way to do this is to ask a question. Do you agree with this decision? Would you ever buy one of these? Have you ever been in a similar situation? Is this the end for his career?
- Lift a quote: Users will like information they believe to be new or noteworthy, and quotes provide unique insight and perspective into the story you want to share. The best and easiest way to showcase the content is to give readers a small sample, or a teaser, of what you're linking them. Again, keep it short, and don't repeat any information from the headline or link summary in the teaser, but make sure the quote could spark a conversation by itself.
- Use a factoid/statistic: People are more likely to share information they can use; in other words, give them some hard data right before the link. Only use data if it's found within the article or related to it.
- Delete the link once it's embedded: The presence of the link within the post looks sloppy, and is generally ineffective. Once you've pasted the link into the post once and the link has fully formed, delete the text in the body of the post.
How to Maximize a Tweet's Retweetability
- Think like a reader: Would you click on this tweet if you read it? If not, tweak it until you would.
- Formality: If you saw a misspelled tweet, would you click on it? Most likely not. Use proper spelling and grammar for everything, unless you're using abbreviations. Even then, avoid writing in full sentences.
- Short messages: Twitter only allows for a maximum of 140 characters in each message. Being strategic with how you use this space is of the utmost importance. The reason? You want enough space for people to retweet and share your message. Try to leave about 20 blank characters; this ensures maximum retweetability for users to add their handles and a brief message. Try to make a meaningful message in 10 words or less.
- Write headlines or factoids: Twitter users love to retweet news headlines, which makes it look like they were the first one to discover that particular news story. Let them think that, while you get all of the subsequent referral traffic. The tweet's meat should either tease the story, or say it outright. Keep it concise, and let your fans do the editorializing.
- Find and use handles: Include as many handles and tags as you can, but only if you can keep the message short. The small amount of research required to find a Twitter handle is more than worth it if that user retweets your message to all of their followers. If their followers continue to retweet your original message, your click-throughs will multiply.
- Tag liberally: Hashtags help make general tweets find more specific audiences. For example, if you're posting about several different sports teams at once, putting a hashtag in front of the name (ex: #DenverLions, #SFGiants) helps fans of those specific teams find your post. This is also especially useful for live-tweeting, so users can track a given hashtag and read all of the tweets about a specific event (ex: #TCDisrupt2011, #WorldSeries).
- Don't capitalize everything: Some news headlines have every word capitalized; on Twitter, capitalization looks chunky. Headlines or sentences look and read much better when they're written normally. For instance, don't write Are All Arranged Marriages Doomed? Instead, write Are all arranged marriages doomed?
- Use URL shorteners: Long URLs take away from a tweet's overall retweetability. URL shorteners not only cut down on the number of characters, but some shorteners also provide statistics that show how far your post reaches. If you can, use the bit.ly URL shortener; bit.ly links are 9 times more likely to be retweeted. URL shorteners like Bit.ly also come with an added bonus, in that they provide statistics of how far provides statistics of how many times the link has been reposted.
While Twitter and Facebook have many differences, there is one theme that ties them all together, and that's consistency. You can't build a brand following without it. This means posting on a somewhat regular schedule is of the utmost importance. It doesn't matter if it's once every hour, or 30 minutes, or two hours. People don't become fans if they can't trust or rely on you for information. Sporadic posting and taking days off is extremely discouraged; all of your hard work will be in vain.
Several tools make regular posting easy, such as Tweetdeck and Hootsuite. There, you can schedule posts, and also find optimal times when your fans are most active (typically, this is on Wednesdays and weekends). It's not easy to consistently maintain an online brand, but if you can build a successful following, it's more than worth the effort.