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Ann Wylie, president, Wylie Communications, shares social media wrtiting tips & insight from Dan Darella’s, “The Science of Retweets,” explaining how we can learn from retweets what traits are more likely to make other messages go viral.

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Dan Zarrella drills down on the science of retweets

How do you create a message that goes viral on Twitter?

Just ask Dan Zarrella. The HubSpot viral marketing scientist spent nine months analyzing five million tweets and 40 million retweets to find what makes some messages travel the world while others just stay home on the couch.

In his new report, “The Science of Retweets,” he shares these tips:

  1. Make it all about me. The most retweeted words in the English language, according to Zarrella’s research: “You.”
  2. Punctuate. Some 98 percent of retweets contain some form of punctuation, compared with 86 percent of normal tweets. So don’t forget the colons, periods, commas and hyphens. But do forget semicolons — “the only unretweetable punctuation mark,” according to Zarrella.
  3. Don’t use TinyURL. Newer, shorter URL-shortening services — such as and — are more likely to get retweeted than older, longer services like TinyURL.

Why retweets matter

So … who cares about retweeting?

You should, Zarrella says. That’s because we can learn from retweets what traits are more likely to make other messages go viral, as well.

“Ideological epidemics have made and lost fortunes, they have saved countless lives and caused horrific wars, they have birthed and destroyed nations,” he writes. “Clearly the most powerful weapon known to man would be the ability to create powerful mental viruses at will.”

Learn more

Would you like to learn more ways to make your tweets, blog postings and nanocontent more relevant, valuable and interesting? If so, please join me at PRSA’s November 12 teleseminar, “How to Write for Social Media.” You’ll learn how to craft copy that gets the word out via social media.

Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Use the 70-20-10 rule for engaging your followers, plus other tips for making sure your status updates are welcome guests, not intrusive pests.
  • Pass the “Who cares?” test — and four other techniques for becoming a resource, not a bore, on social media.
  • Get retweeted: Five steps for expanding your influence and reach on Twitter.
  • Tweet like the FBI. Write dramatic, compelling status tweets.
  • Draw people in with nanocontent: Convince blog visitors to click — in 11 characters or less.
  • Tweak your texts and tweets: Get your message across in 140 characters.
  • Make your posts personable: There’s a reason they call it “social” media.

Attending the PRSA 2009 International Conference in San Diego in November? Learn even more: Join me for a half-day pre-Conference session on writing for social media there.

By Ann Wylie, president, Wylie Communications. Ann works with communicators who want to reach more readers and with organizations that want to get the word out. She travels from Hollywood to Helsinki, presenting writing workshops that help communicators at such organizations as NASA, AT&T and H&R Block polish their skills and find new inspiration for their work. For PRSA, she presents programs like “Writing That Sells — Products, Services and Ideas” in on-site sessions across the country. Ann is the author of more than a dozen learning tools, including, a toolbox for writers. In addition to writing and editing, Ann helps organizations launch or revitalize their Web sites and publications. She has served as a public relations professional in an agency, corporate communicator for Hallmark Cards, editor of an executive magazine and consultant in her own firm. Her work has earned more than 60 communication awards, including two IABC Gold Quills. Get a free subscription to her Writing Tips e-zine.

Join Ann for her seminar “Get the Word Out Online: How to Write Blog Postings, Tweets and Web Pages That Engage” on Friday, June 18 in San Francisco, CA!

About the author

Ann Wylie

1 Comment

  • I agree with this to a point. We all have valuable information to share and social media is an excellent way to broadcast the message. But, with that comes responsibility. Today’s political arena is a hotbed of inaccurate, self serving, uncivilized, and downright hateful messages and social media is just fueling the fire.

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