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4 strategies to boost Twitter engagement that go beyond word choice

Your company knows Twitter — in fact, you’re probably using it already  so what can you do to boost engagement and expand your reach? You need only glance at your own Twitter feed to appreciate how cluttered it is. While your business is trying to claim a piece of users' attention, followers are being bombarded from every direction.

For retailers looking to improve their Twitter engagement, it’s a matter of standing above the noise by producing genuinely appealing content with high retweet value. So what, practically speaking, can you be doing to boost those retweets? Here are some strategies.

1. Photo and video

Every brand needs to run its own testing to see what works well for the brand, but one of the great things about Twitter is that it does a lot of the leg work to point you in the right direction. In a recent study, Twitter dissected what elements worked well across millions of tweets sent out by verified users. The results found that use of photos boosted retweets by 35 percent, while video links resulted in a 28 percent increase in retweets.

Last November, Twitter enabled previews of photos and Vines in its newsfeed, meaning that your Twitter followers no longer need to expand a tweet to see an attached image. Brands that are taking advantage of this effectively are those that manage to use an image that fits into the preview box perfectly. The easiest way to ensure your images are optimized is to tweet pictures with a 2:1 aspect ratio with vertically centered text and graphics.

In our information-saturated world where everyone has easy access to a smartphone camera, not all images shared on Twitter are equal. If your brand wants to stand out, your images need to show integrity to your brand identity while complementing the rest of your strategy.

Timing is a key element that should guide what images to tweet. Are you involved with current events or newsworthy discoveries and offerings? New material with high public interest is prime tweetable content — for example, NASA does this well by highlighting scientific discoveries and updates from the Mars Rover.

Think about image quality and the artistry behind it too. Blurry iPhone shots simply don't make the cut if you want to boost engagement. Retailers that are hitting the mark and gaining huge Twitter followings include Whole Foods, Etsy and Victoria’s Secret. One of the common features in their Twitter accounts is their use of high-quality, engaging and relevant images that garner a large number of retweets.

2. Frequency

It’s one of the biggest questions about Twitter strategy: how often should you tweet? Twitter feeds move rapidly, but the answer lies in testing what works for your business. In surveys about why people "unfollow" accounts on Twitter, the top two reasons include tweeting too much or tweeting too little – but this still doesn’t provide any hard and fast rules.

There are a number of studies with differing views on how often you should tweet, but the best thing you can do is make sure you are mixing it up with different types of tweets and giving your followers what they want. The key to remember is that social media is meant to be social! If your tweets function mostly as broadcast messages and don’t generate much in the way of interaction, you may be talking about yourself too much.

3. Embedded tweets

One of the great features of Twitter is that your tweets don’t need to be confined to the Twitter platform. You can boost engagement for your best tweets by embedding them into your other online properties. Key features here include real-time updates on engagement visible to anyone who is seeing the embedded tweet, and the ability to join the conversation directly from the site where you embed the tweet.

4. Avenues for inspiration

If you find yourself at a loss for ideas to tweet about, here are a few avenues to get a hint of inspiration. Try following accounts that are related to your interests to scope out what is working well and how their strategies might apply to your business. Join in global conversations by following what's trending on Twitter  particularly if it’s related to topics of interest to your own followers. Finally, for specific Twitter hints, Twitter’s own blogs are a great source of information. Check out Twitter for Brands and Agencies for regular updates on how to grow your brand on Twitter.

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