Public Relations Tactics

Take Me to Your Reader: How to Write Tweets That Go Viral

October 11, 2012

The people who I follow on Twitter serve as a virtual research team. They scour the Web, finding valuable information — new studies, resources and insights — so that I don’t have to.

Passing along valuable information compels people to share your content, according to a 2010 study by Chadwick Martin Bailey. The top three reasons for sharing are:

  1. Because I find it interesting/entertaining (72 percent)
  2. Because I think it will be helpful to recipients (58 percent)
  3. To get a laugh (58 percent)

In addition, consumers are growing wary of brands spamming across social media platforms. However, they are willing to receive content from people they know.  That’s why retweeting is valuable for brands.

If you want people to retweet your tweets, then make them helpful to your followers. Here are three ways to do that:

  1. Share how-to stories. How-to information is the second-most retweeted type of content, according to 2010 research by Dan Zarrella, a viral marketing scientist for HubSpot. If you want more retweets, then share your blog posts, packed with tips and techniques, via Twitter.

    Here is how often people share — retweet — six kinds of information on Twitter:

    • News (78 percent)
    • How-to information (58 percent)
    • Entertainment (53 percent)
    • Opinion (50 percent)
    • Products (45 percent)
    • Small talk (12 percent)
  2. Tweet like H&R Block. That’s what H&R Block does.  The company’s Twitter feed offers tax tips and on-demand assistance.  This how-to approach earned H&R Block a place on Time magazine’s list of the “140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2012.” Sample tweets include: “Tax Deductions for Job Search Expenses.”
  3. Share links. H&R Block’s tweets often contain links.  And that’s another way to go viral with Twitter.  The more links that you share, the more retweets you’ll get, according to Zarrella. Do you want people to spread the word?  Then, provide links to resources, tips and tools.

Don’t chit-chat

What’s not retweetable?

Small talk, Zarrella says. In 2012, he studied the percentage of “@” replies that people retweet to learn the value of conversing. He found that people who chat a lot on Twitter are less likely to have someone retweet them than those who chat less.

How much conversation is enough? Aim for about 10 percent of  “@” replies among your tweets, Zarrella suggests. The rest of the time, focus on delivering relevant, valuable and helpful information.

Copyright © 2012 Ann Wylie. All rights reserved.

Ann Wylie

Ann Wylie ( works with communicators who want to reach more readers and organizations that want to get the word out. To learn more about her training, consulting or writing and editing services, contact her at Visit and get more than 2,000 writing tipsheets at


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