Understanding engagement rate on Twitter
Engagement rate is the metric you want to keep an eye out for when looking at the performance of your tweets. It’s properly defined by the number of engagements (like, reply, retweet, clicks) on a tweet divided by the number of impressions (# of times your tweet is seen).
A high-performing tweet is by definition one with a high engagement rate. That’s because having high engagement means you’re providing your audience with relevant and quality content.
The average engagement rate on Twitter is lower than on other networks and sits at 0.07% (14x less to Instagram’s 0.98%). This is due both to the Twitter format which is highly text-focused (a bit harder to grab the attention), and a renowned “pickyness” on behalf of Twitter users.
Brands don’t perform very well on Twitter, which is why so many of them only use it to do damage control or customer support. Twitter is definitely a people social network.
As an individual, anything between 0.50% and 1% engagement rate can be considered good. Exceeding 1% is considered great. Us at Tweet Hunter, we aim for the 5-10% range.
Please your audience, not the algorithm
Some people think that the best way to increase your engagement rate is to understand the Twitter algorithm.
This leads people do extensive research on Google or setup experiments to figure out how Twitter’s (or any other social media’s for that matter) algorithm works and how to please it.
Though interesting, it’s much more important to understand what social media’s ideal user behaves like, and the answer is: someone who stays in the app, consumes content, and watches ads.
So the only way to satisfy the Twitter algorithm is to deliver content that will get users to have a positive experience while scrolling their Twitter feed. Which is a very basic conclusion that doesn’t require you to try and reverse engineer an algorithm.
Instead of asking yourself “what should I write to please the algorithm and get more reach”, you should really ask “what is my audience looking for?”. “What kind of content will be enjoyable for my audience?”.
For sure, there are things that are specific about your audience. Things that will speak to them and nobody else. However, most human beings have similar traits that will have them feel attracted to the same kind of contents.
This is what we will start exploring now.
Psychological biases behind great copywriting
Psychological (or cognitive) biases are what make us humans deviate from rational thinking. In other words, they trigger emotions which lead to a certain kind of reaction. In our case, emotional reactions are exactly what we want because they lead to engagement (like, reply, retweet).
So let’s start by taking a look at these psychological biases.
If there’s one cognitive bias you want to remember, it’s the confirmation bias. It states humans tend to favor information that supports their beliefs.
A great example of confirmation bias is that people consume media outlets which tend to agree with their political beliefs. In the US, right-wing conservatives watch Fox News, while left-wing liberals watch MSNBC.
To apply this confirmation bias to your tweet copywriting, all you need to do is think about what your audience’s belief system relies on. If you are trying to sell stuff to creators, then you should publish content that encourages what creators typically believe, such as freedom, creativity or entrepreneurship.
The Dunning-Kruger Effect
Despite a complicated name, the Dunning-Kruger effect is quite easy to grasp.
When people don’t know much about something, they tend to be very confident that they understand everything. Like when your friend who took one class of economics 101 in college suddenly thinks he can explain how the world works.
The Dunning-Kruger effect also explains that these people quickly start feeling like idiots when they are confronted to an actual expert or to their poor performance. Only by going through this period of doubt can they become knowledgeable in this field.
There are a couple ways you can use this bias in your tweet copywriting:
1) Understanding no one feels they’re dumb. So calling out dumb stuff people do in your target audience will either get you praise or negative reactions (which are very useful).
2) You probably had a moment in your life when you felt like an expert about something only to discover you don’t actually know much about it. Use that to provide quality content to people who are not yet experts. “I used to think [X], now I know [Y]”.
The Barnum Effect is also one of the most useful cognitive biases for Twitter copywriting. It states humans tend to believe personality descriptions are tailored to them even though they remain quite general.
It’s the reason why horoscopes or psychics are a business. To some extent, this is also true for enterprise personality tests (like MBTI).
The way you can use that in your tweets is by introducing emotions you are feeling in your tweets. Something along the lines of “How is it that I always get cold called when I want to be left alone?”. It will have people thinking “this person is just like me, he/she likes to be left alone sometimes”.
Ok, this one is really easy to understand. People tend to better remember humorous events than non-humorous ones. It does sound kind of obvious, as you would tend to react more to something entertaining than you would to something boring.
Even though it’s quite basic, it’s crucial to include humor in some of your tweets. Try to think about what is weird about your industry or your job, check out the latest memes and try to apply them to your niche, or say something sarcastic or surprising.
Say you tweet about crypto, you could talk about the bad habits you take when you start trading coins: “Google knows the minute you start holding crypto, because you begin checking your phone every 45 seconds”.
Humans tend to focus on a single piece of information instead of looking at the whole picture, which impairs their judgement and decision-making.
Another form of this bias is Affective Forecasting, which is people’s tendency to be very optimistic about anything that can happen to them, because they tend to only remember the information that could lead to a positive outcome.
Use that in your tweets by encouraging your audience. You would typically tell makers something like “the road is uncertain and filled with challenges, but focus and work hard and you’ll make it”.
Or the importance of the messenger. People can react very differently to the same information depending on who is communicating it. Most likely, if it’s told by someone you dislike, you will tend to devaluate the information and claim it’s false, unlikely, etc.
Let’s say you tweet about marketing. A smart marketer knows everyone in a company has an important role, but you could drive engagement in your tweets by calling out typical competing teams. Salesmen compete with marketers to claim they drive revenue, engineers complain marketing gets too much budget, etc.
Use that to make tweets that sound like “engineers would have you think that [Y], but actually, what marketing does is [X].
Generate more engagement on your Tweets
You now have all the knowledge you need to explain cognitive biases. But you’re probably still wondering how to actually use them.
There are a few ways to do that. In the next section we will give you a few templates, but right now we’ll focus on techniques.
Saying something that’s different than what many people believe is very effective in triggering positive and negative reactions.
Those who agree will be happy to finally see someone who agrees and will like & retweet, those who disagree will comment.
There are many ways you can do that in your tweet copywriting. Here are a few:
- Go against consensus. Think about what most people believe and you think is wrong. Try to communicate that in a provocative way.
- Define your “enemies”. Install an “Us vs. Them” relationship in your tweets. Typically the type of language used by conspiracy theorists, but which you can use in a more positive way. For example, a maker’s “enemy” could be people working in big corporations. A snowboarders enemy could be people who prefer skiing. Etc.
- Use contrasts. Much like the previous point, try to use contrast to communicate your thoughts. Contrast makes it easy to understand complicated ideas and make them seem provocative.
- Call out the BS. A lot of the stuff you’ll see on Twitter is people saying consensual things and agreeing with each other. That’s quite boring and doesn’t trigger many emotions. If you notice something that’s starting to irritate you, say it! In our case, it’s Twitter courses that are no better than a typical blog post.
- Give out orders. Tell people what they should do. Some of them will agree, others will tell you how you are wrong. In any case, you’ll be driving engagement. What do you think your audience should start doing? Do more? Stop doing?
Most screenwriters agree it’s a lot harder to write a scenario for a comedy than it is for a drama. It’s because most people get sad, scared or angry for the same reasons. Humor, however, is quite personal. Many people can love a comedian or a funny movie, but just as many people won’t find it funny.
Being funny in 280 characters can be quite a challenge.
Here are a few techniques that can help you be funnier on Twitter:
- Call out the BS. Again? Yes. Instead this time when you identify something you find irritating, talk about out like in a sarcastic way. Example: “Great new way to get your startup to stand out: include crypto, self-driving and no-code.”
- Memes. More memes. Most people LOVE memes. Especially on Twitter where most users are quite familiar with meme culture. Check out the latest popular memes and try to apply them to your target audience. This is for sure the easiest way to be funny on Twitter.
- Surprise people. Easier said than done. Yet surprise is a key element of humor. Give people something they weren’t expecting, and you’ll be remembered for a while. Take something people are familiar with, like the typical “unpopular opinion” tweet format 👉 “unpopular opinion: I like french fries.”
Most people on social media like to only show the bright side of things. You rarely see Instagram influencers posting the bad stuff happening in their lives. Which leads to “success fatigue”: people who get bored by other people’s success.
Though you should definitely celebrate your successes and milestones to get some engagement, you should also show you’re human every now and then. The best way to do that is to show vulnerability.
- Share failures. It’s quite easy to share something that didn’t turn out to be as successful as you thought. This probably happens every day. Share some of these things and try to give some learnings you got along the way.
- Show embarrassing stuff from the past. If you are like most people, you probably feel a bit embarrassed by stuff you did in the past, whether it’s your first logo design or how you managed to open your first bottle of wine. This is great content to share because most people will relate to that feeling.
- Talk about your flaws. Flaws are what make us human. You probably have identified some of your own. Sharing what they are and how you deal with them or plan to self improve is relatable and inspiring for your audience. If you’re a UX designer for example, you could tweet about how you don’t talk to your users enough and show how you plan to improve that.
Templates for scientifically great tweets
You now know more about cognitive biases as well as the techniques you can used in copywriting to apply them to your tweets.
To help get you started, we compiled a list of templates which use cognitive biases and usually work really well.
Now you know a lot more about how to tweet for engagement.
All these templates are foolproof and will definitely drive more attention to your Twitter account. And the cognitive biases are universal, so you can use them anywhere in your writing.
There’s one last thing we haven’t talked about yet, and which is just as much of a game-changer than copy when it comes to engagement rate.
Telling your story
Most of the people who start out on Twitter have a fear of not being interesting enough to grow an audience. This impostor syndrome is very frequent amongst creators, and perhaps you’re facing it right now or have faced it in the past.
That’s OK, so did we at some point.
It’s important to remember that there’s nothing like a true and personal story to generate high engagement. Yes, copy is important, but not more important than the content. And people love hearing about other people’s stories, be it successes or failures, humorous or depressing, long-form or short-form.
We highly recommend you take out a piece of paper and write down everything that’s made you who you are today.
Relationship successes and broken hearts.
Things you’ve failed and ended up succeeding at.
Here’s one of my recent well-performing tweets. You’ll see it has a lot of the right ingredients.
- A personal story
- A question giving an opportunity to engage
- A topic I usually tweet about
What was your very first entrepreneurial experience?— Tom J (@tomjacquesson) October 16, 2021
Me: selling my Happy Meal toys during my parents’ garage sale
Most people think that tweet just took 10 seconds to write.
And they’re not wrong.
But it took me a while of being exposed to great content to know in advance that this tweet would get a high engagement rate (6.35%) and that I should publish it.
If you want to speed up that process and expose yourself to amazing content your brain can feed on, you can enjoy a free trial of Tweet Hunter, the all-in-one, AI-powered Twitter growth tool. Driving high engagement on all your tweets doesn’t get any easier.