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How to Spread your Message

You can learn a lot from Twitter – and not just about Twitter, but also about how to spread messages about anything to anyone any way.

Dan Zarella has studied what makes folks share content on Twitter and his takeaways can apply more broadly to any message you want to spread, no matter how you want to spread it.

Here are his key points, from

Scarcity rules. Tweets that center on news — particularly urgent information — are more likely to be retweeted. Content that is informative or entertaining also spreads well because these qualities are relatively rare. More mundane tweets, such as personal observations, get less traction because they’re something everyone already has, he notes. If you want your tweets to spread, their value has to be readily apparent. Choose your words carefully. Tweets that focus on nouns — particularly “you” — are more retweetable. Tweets focusing on personal actions — “watching,” “going” or “listening” for example — tend to be less sharable. Tell people what to do and they’ll do it. It might sound cheesy, but Zarrella says that if you add “Please Retweet” to a tweet, people are more likely to share it. The same goes for other calls to action — telling people what to do increases their likelihood of following through, he notes. Variety is a constant. Zarrella is quick to point out that many of the best practices revealed by his findings don’t work as well if used to excess. Instead of slavishly repeating of formula, Zarrella says users should experiment with different tactics and develop patterns that help their content find new audiences without becoming stale.

So if you set out to spread a message, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is it scarce, informative, or entertaining?

  2. Is it focused on the consumer, not you?

  3. Does it contain a call to acton?

  4. Does it strike the core message in a variety of ways?

If you answer “yes” to all those questions, your message is more likely to be seen and heard.

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