"Standing Out from the Crowd" by Angie Muldowney on Flickr

If you think writing novels (or blog posts) is hard, try tweeting for a living.

In most forms of communication, the audience invites you to spin your story and enchant them over time.  Even a 30 second TV commercial gives you half a minute to make your pitch.

But on Twitter, you only have milliseconds to capture someone’s attention as they scroll through a nonstop litany of links, promotions, inside jokes and regurgitated news stories, desperately in search of something interesting.  If you’re not immediately captivating on Twitter, your boring tweets will be buried under an avalanche of similarly blah messaging in the blink of an eye.

So how do you manage to stay interesting on Twitter, day after day?

Here are 11 tips that we at Creative Concepts have developed internally on behalf of our clients to help them stay competitive in Twitter’s attention market:

  1. Every tweet is a headline. For centuries, newspaper editors have been writing great headlines to draw attention to dense blocks of text that might otherwise go overlooked. Imagine that every tweet you send is going on the front page of The New York Times, and that you’re single-handedly responsible for increasing the paper’s circulation.  (No pressure, right?)
  2. Be useful. “Interesting” is always a matter of perspective, but “useful” actually provides a service.  You may not be dazzled by the prose of a tweet, but if you want (or need) to know what it’s pitching, you’re far more likely to click.
  3. Be direct. Addressing someone with the @ symbol in front of their Twitter handle ensures that they’ll see what you have to say.  (Now, just don’t be spammy…)
  4. Be brief. The shorter your tweet is, the easier it is for others to add their own commentary as they retweet you — and people love adding their own two cents to your discussion.
  5. Solve a problem. We search Twitter to find out what kinds of problems our clients’ customers (and potential customers) may be having, and then we help our clients offer their customers solutions via links to products, blog posts, or just good old-fashioned advice.
  6. Remove doubt. People like to know what works. By sharing the positive reviews and accolades that others have tweeted about your products and services, you’re letting potential customers know that your existing customers would recommend you — because they just did.
  7. Say thank-you. When you see kudos about your brand, thank that person directly. They’ll appreciate knowing that their kind words helped make someone else’s day.
  8. Become an information resource. What are the hot topics in your brand’s industry right now?  What is everyone talking about? What is no one talking about? By sharing information about those topics great and small, your brand becomes your customers’ curator for a larger conversation about the field or the industry itself.
  9. Be funny. Humor travels fast on Twitter, and while everyone’s sense of humor is different, a brand that can laugh at itself is a brand that others are more likely to take seriously.
  10. Be positive. Twitter is occasionally a traffic jam of complaints and customer service debacles. Be the upside that cuts through the clutter and you’ll stand out simply for taking the high road.
  11. Be yourself. What you say is important, but so is how you say it. No one stops to read a brochure, but they’ll linger to overhear a private conversation. Deliver your messages honestly and authentically — and in your own voice — and you’re less likely to be confused for an easily-ignored marketing robot.

Image by Angie Muldowney on Flickr