Why is it that so many businesses that consider participating on Twitter little different than shouting into the infinite abyss?
Having your voice stand out on Twitter can be mystifying, a modern day enigma so complex it can dissuade you from participating on a social media channel with 320 million active users altogether, and that’s a big mistake.
While it might feel like you’re simply tweeting into a vacuum, it’s not a question of whether an audience is listening, it’s a question of what you’re doing to command their attention.
This article will examine 10 of the top tweets from 2015 and provide expert advice on how they can influence your Twitter strategy and make your business stand out from the crowd.
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1. Harry Styles
All the love as always. H— Harry Styles. (@Harry_Styles) March 26, 2015
22-year-old Harry Styles of the band One Direction has the honor of authoring the most popular tweet of 2015.
You might not think this means much. A popular singer with millions of adoring teenage fans receives record engagement, but you’re missing the bigger picture and what it says about Twitter’s demographics.
Pew Research Center indicates Twitter usage is most common among younger populations. Roughly 32 percent of all Internet users ages 18 to 29 are active on Twitter. A rather eye-opening statistic when compared to 13 percent of users ages 50 to 64.
The takeaway: Social strategies that appeal to younger users can have greater potential to succeed.
What Colors Are This Dress?— BuzzFeed (@BuzzFeed) February 26, 2015
For a brief moment in time, seemingly the entire Internet was captivated by one burning question: is the dress white and gold or black and blue?
Despite the tweet’s innate silliness, it sparked a playful viral debate that infiltrated popular culture. How does something as trivial as the color of a dress garner attention from Taylor Swift and Jimmy Fallon, let alone millions of Twitter users?
The stakes behind this debate are virtually nonexistent. It adopts a playful tone in stark contrast to the hostility that’s become commonplace throughout viral debates. The lighter tone makes it accessible to a broader audience because people respond more to positivity, it’s science.
Perhaps most compelling, the simplicity of the issue, identifying a color, requires no previous context of the situation, allowing outsiders to jump right in and participate.
The takeaway: Sparking a debate can attract attention; keeping the tone light can broaden the appeal.
3. Richard Branson
Considered a top influencer on Twitter, Richard Branson has gained a massive audience. 7.54 million followers at last count, roughly 2.3 percent of Twitter’s entire user base.
With so many influencers on Twitter, what makes Branson so engaging? Virgin’s CEO is a notable philanthropist, brimming with positive affirmations.
These tidbits of inspiration have proven wildly popular across Twitter. Following the logic that people respond better to positivity, positive affirmations have a natural ability to resonate with your audience with the added bonus of being easily shared.
The takeaway: Content that inspires has a tendency to be shared.
It’s not hard to attract spectators when you’re in the business of interplanetary exploration, but one image managed to set the bar remarkably high, even by NASA standards.
NASA’s New Horizons provided the first high-res image of dwarf planet Pluto, subsequently capturing Twitter’s collective imagination in the process.
Apart from instilling a sense of intrigue, this tweet succeeds because it visually conveys its significance. Appeal to the imagination and you can attract attention, visual content is highly effective in that department.
The takeaway: Visuals say more and capture audience’s imagination.
The Northeast was rocked by a major blizzard in early 2015, burying certain parts of the U.S. in as much as 34.5 inches of snow. Virtually everyone in America was following the event, leading to trending topics of conversation on Twitter.
CNN’s tweet visually chronicled what it was like to actually experience the storm, garnering lots of attention by bringing the blizzard home to the rest of America.
The takeaway: Firsthand accounts of current events can capitalize on trends.
6. New York Times
The top NYT Places To GO choices from the last 10 years.— The New York Times (@nytimes) December 29, 2015
Regardless how you feel about so-called "listicles", itemized lists with blurbs of information, they’re a mainstay of the Twitterverse. Such easily digestible, thematic content also has a tendency to be shared.
Pairing the power of image and listicle together, The New York Times succeeds with this tweet that counts down their top worldwide travel destinations and represents them visually to create incredibly compelling content.
The takeaway: Listicles are widely shared.
7. Taco Bell
@Jax Separation anxiety is setting in.— Taco Bell (@tacobell) July 28, 2015
Sometimes the best attention-grabbing Twitter material takes the form of engagement. Perhaps no brand demonstrates this better, or more humorously, than Taco Bell.
The takeaway: Twitter audiences love getting personal; engagement wins them over.
8. Marissa Mayer
Photo: 3,400+ people getting ready to break the Guiness Book’s world record for largest simultaneous yodel.— marissamayer (@marissamayer) March 3, 2015
In order to commemorate Yahoo’s 20th anniversary, CEO Marissa Mayer and 3,400+ people assembled to shatter the Guinness Book’s world record for the largest simultaneous yodel, a quirky way to celebrate history while making history.
The takeaway: Humor can humanize your brand.
A little bit of fan service, content exclusively engineered for your audience, goes a long way.
Playstation collected global stats from a popular title, "Until Dawn", to create an engaging infographic about the community. The tweet succeeds because it pairs a visual element with numbers, and people love numbers.
The takeaway: Data-driven infographics get noticed, acknowledging your fan base solidifies community.
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Always set out to change the meaning of “like a girl,” giving it a positive connotation, a simple message of encouragement that garnered tremendous support and subsequently caught widespread attention.
Although very difficult to replicate, establishing a trend brings the most attention. New trends are established every minute on Twitter. No other platform gives you so many opportunities to capture lightning in a bottle.
The takeaway: Setting trends can put you in the spotlight.