By: @Garin Kilpatrick
Virality on Twitter takes a combination of Science and Style. Without the Science of spreading in action even the most stylistic tweet will go unnoticed. Without any style even a well positioned tweet will fall flat.
But with a tactfully written tweets your posts stand the best chance of spreading like wildfire.
The following fifteen traits of viral tweets are a distillation of the most important elements of getting more retweets with an infusion of scientific retweet data.
The tactics in this article will explain to you how to go viral on Twitter so that the chances of your tweets spreading virally on Twitter will increase dramatically!
1. Viral Tweets are Shared by Influencers
The more influential you are on Twitter the more likely your tweets are to go viral. Even if you are starting on Twitter today you can still get the power of influence working for you by making a connection with an influential person on Twitter.
As I explained in my recent article about the golden rules of Twitter, reciprocity can be a powerful way to grow your Twitter influence. Retweet an influencer often, comment on their blog, connect with them on Facebook if you can, and help them out as much as possible before you ask them to share something for you. The idea is to help them out so much that when you ask them for help they feel obligated to oblige.
If you can get even one influential Twitter user to retweet you the chances of your tweet going viral increase significantly.
Even if you can’t get one of these users retweeting you, there are many influencers on Twitter, and gaining the favor of a person with influence is often as simple as purchasing a product they offer and engaging with them on Twitter and their blog. Do favors for a person with influence first, and then ask them to help you with a retweet, and they will be much more likely to help you out.
Where can you find influencers? You can start with my influencers Twitter list and for a list of the most followed people on Twitter by city, check out Twopcharts.
2. Viral Tweets Usually Contain a Link
Tweets containing a link are retweeted more often than those tweets without. I suspect that a reason for this is that many of the links that are tweeted direct to a page that contains a retweet button.
Many people are conditioned to click this button and retweet content when they see it, which is why I use the Digg Digg plugin on all of my WordPress blogs so that the tweet button is contantly in view as my readers are checking out my content.
You can also install the tweet button manually into pages.
3. Include a Call to Action
In email marketing one of the best subject lines for getting an email opened is simply: check this out. I have found that this call to action works well for getting tweets retweeted as well. I often write tweets like this: “Check this…whatever it is…out:”
A call to action can be indirect as well. If you hint about the content that a link contains in a way that sparks curiosity people will be more inclined to click.
4. Write an Exceptional Headline
Man’s Head Explodes in a Barber’s Chair. Got your attention? That’s what a great headline is all about.
Headlines are alot like tweets. Both are short and punchy.
If you want to sharpen your headline & tweet writing skills check out this post on how to write mind blowing headlines.
5. Breaking News
By breaking news you can get your tweet shared like crazy. @jkrums posted a picture of a plane that landed in hudson bay and it has since been viewed over 600,000 times! This has netted him hundreds if not thousands of followers and the clout that comes with having a truly viral picture.
Pictures retweet really well, so if you want to go viral on Twitter a good place to start is by working on your photography skills, and posting pics to TwitPic or other Twitter photo sharing tools on a regular basis!
6. Tweet Content with Twitter Sharing Widgets
This is a simple tip, but essential if you want your link to go viral. If you are tweeting your own content make sure you install a tweet button first!
7. Perfect Timing
Twitter has peak traffic times, depending on the day of the week, and the time of the day. For your tweet to have the best chance of going viral you should time it so that it can ride these waves of Twitter traffic to viral success.
The busiest times on Twitter are Thursday and Friday afternoon. The exact best time really depends on the time zone of the people in your afternoon, but mid-afternoon is typically best, from 2-5pm.
Tracking the click through rate of your tweets with a link shortener like bit.ly or Hootsuite and with some calculated testing you’ll be able to tell when the best time is for you.
8. Provide Immense Value
Value goes viral. The more valuable the content is that you are giving away, the greater the chance is that people will share and retweet it.
One way to deliver immense value is by creating a high quality product that you give away for free. This could be a .pdf, a video, Mp3, or any other valuable content you can imagine!
An eCourse is one way that I personally like to use to deliver value to my network, and I have developed free Twitter, Facebook, and Fitness eCourses, which have been retweeted many times.
9. Use Retweetable Words
After analyzing 10,000 retweets Dan Zarella found the following words to be the most common:
||new blog post
Think about how you can integrate these words into your tweets more often and you will be amazed at the difference they can make!
10. Incentivize Retweets
By offering an incentive for people to retweet you increase the liklihood that they will. One way to do this is by offering a free report, or some other free content, by using the free service pay with a tweet. Pay with a tweet enables you to deliver free content after a tweet is tweeted.
The most successful viral campaign I ever witnessed was when a company offered to donate a penny for every time the hashtag #beatcancer was tweeted. This hashtag was tweeted tens of thousands of times, and became a trending topic and a viral success!
Leave room for RT + @YourUsername
Some people (myself included) still usually retweet in the classic style, by writing RT and then the persons Twitter username.
By leaving enough room for people to retweet in this style you maximize your chance of having the most people possible retweet you.
12. Social Proof
The power of social proof is show by how the more times a user sees a retweet the more likely they are to retweet it as well.
What this may indicate is that social proof (or imitation more specifically) plays a role in a user’s decision to ReTweet. The more users a Twitterer sees ReTweet something, the more likely they are themselves to ReTweet it.
Another factor in the decision to ReTweet that this data point may be highlighting is that when the act ReTweeting is called to a user’s attention, they may be more likely to ReTweet.
13. Say Please
I have tested using “Please RT” and it does get your tweet retweeted more often.
If you liked this post will you pleaseretweet it on Twitter? I’d appreciate it!
Have any of your tweets gone viral on Twitter?
Let us know about your most viral tweet in the comments below!
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