If the most annoying bios on Twitter are people who call themselves "hackers," "life coaches" and "keynote speakers," then the two most annoying types of tweets begin with the words "interesting" or "great" as in:
- Great meeting this morning with the Ajax company, or;
- Jane Smith led an interesting topic discussion at the forum.
Social media is the new journalism, allowing each of us to report on the events of our lives and our businesses in an unfiltered way. Still, even though Twitter, Facebook, and Google (and the companies they own) are a free-form expression, there are basic rules from legacy media that still apply, starting with the need to engage your audience.
Frame Your Tweet With The Five Basic Questions
Anyone who went to journalism school will tell you one of the first edicts pounded into their heads was how to craft a lede. Engage your audience by using operative words to answer 'who,' 'what,' 'why,' 'where' and 'when'--if you want them to keep reading.
Even with Twitter's 280-character limit, there's still plenty of room to answer 'why' something was interesting or 'what' was discussed at the meeting that made it noteworthy.
As a close relation, it drives me up a wall when people repeat the headline of the news story they linked to in their narrative. The goal of your Twitter post is adding something original to something someone else has already posted. If you haven't heard, social media has democratized the information landscape, and now everyone is an expert (light sarcasm), so pontificate, don't reiterate.
You're not a neutral observer of what's going on around you when posting on Twitter. That's why journalists existed.
Be An Active Participant In Your Tweets
It's your story, and the people who follow you on Twitter or Facebook want to get the benefit of your wit or your wisdom because that's what makes it original. That's also what makes them want to click through to the pictures, videos and stories you shared. Otherwise, why would they follow you when they could be watching cat videos?
Here's a much better option for the above tweets:
- "Just as the Ajax company representative poured out their product into the solution, lightning lit up the sky outside making me feel like I was in a Harry Potter movie." (picture of Ajax product in dish attached or GIF of lightning) "Since lightning doesn't strike twice, we closed the deal."
- "This was my first time in Florida, and I wanted to spend time sightseeing, but Jane Smith's talk on crocodile fatalities made me feel more comfortable inside where I could hunt for food instead of being the hunted."
Both of these posts not only answer one of the five lede questions, but they both give the audience context about the author and answers the question, "Why should I care?" As a reader, now I want to know more so I might click on your link, watch your video or respond with a comment of my own.
Engagement is the holy grail of social media, and your social media content is competing for eyeballs against millions of other pieces of content. So before you tweet next time, ask yourself, "Am I providing any value to anyone on Twitter, or am I just letting everyone know I'm alive?"