Twitter is a powerful tool for scientists to share their research, connect with peers, and engage with a wider audience. Gaining visibility on the platform can , however, be difficult, especially if you don’t have many followers. So how to you avoid feeling like you are tweeting out into the void?
One approach is to gain a better understanding of Twitter’s algorithm. This is the system that Twitter uses to determine which tweets are shown to users in their feeds, search results, and notifications. The algorithm uses a number of factors to determine which tweets are most relevant to a user, including engagement, timeliness, and relevance.
The algorithm is designed to show users the tweets that are most likely to be of interest to them, based on their previous activity on the platform, the accounts they follow, and other factors such as trending topics and hashtags.
Twitter’s algorithm is constantly evolving and being updated in response to user feedback and changes in user behaviour. This means that what works to increase visibility on Twitter today may not work tomorrow, and it’s important for users to stay up-to-date with the latest changes to the algorithm if they want to optimise their presence on the platform. HootSuite, an app that helps you manage your Twitter presence, often posts helpful information on the company blog.
Here are some tips to help you navigate Twitter’s algorithm to get your story out there.
1. Write threads, rather than just single tweets
Threads are a series of connected tweets that tell a story or convey information. Threads can help your tweets become more visible with Twitter’s algorithm, because it boosts tweets that encourage readers to stay and read. When you post a thread, Twitter will group all of the tweets together, making it easier for users to see the entire thread and engage with it. Here’s how to write good ones:
- Have a clear message: Before you start writing your thread, think about what you want to convey and what the main message is. This will help you stay focused and ensure that your thread is coherent and easy to follow.
- Start strong: The first tweet in your thread should grab the reader’s attention and make them want to read on. Use an interesting fact or statistic, ask a question, or share a provocative statement to pique their interest.
- Use visuals: Twitter is a visual platform, so use images, graphs, and other visuals to help illustrate your points and make your thread more engaging. Be sure to include alt text for accessibility.
- Tell a story: weave your thread into a narrative, instead of just sharing a fact or piece of information. If you want to know more, we have a course on Storytelling for Scientists.
2. Make sure your tweets/threads target a specific audience
Targeting your tweets to different audiences is important because it allows you to reach specific groups of people with content that is relevant and meaningful to them. As well as being better for your audience, this will improve engagement with your tweets, which in turn, will boost your visibility.
What’s more, when you target your tweets to specific audiences, you are more likely to share content that is relevant and useful to them. This increases the chances of engagement and retweets, as well as the likelihood that your content will be shared with other like-minded individuals.
Once you have decided who you are trying to reach, you can tailor your messaging and content to resonate with them and increase engagement. For example, what language would work best? If writing for scientists in your field, then technical jargon is fine, for a more general scientific readership, less so. And for a general audience, you also need to work out what level of background knowledge to assume (which we cover in our courses).
Think about visuals: tweets containing images get viewed and shared more often than those using text only. Tailor your use of visuals accordingly. For example, if you’re writing for a scientific audience, you may want to include more technical graphs and charts, whereas if you’re writing for a general audience, you may want to use more accessible images. Always make sure you include Alt text so that people who use screen readers can access your images.
3. Remember the golden rule: reciprocity
Reciprocity is key on Twitter because it is a social network that is built on the principle of sharing and interaction. Twitter users are more likely to engage with others who engage with them, and this can lead to increased visibility, followers, and networking opportunities. When you engage with other users by retweeting their content, responding to their tweets, and sharing their content, they are more likely to do the same for you. This creates a sense of reciprocity and can help to build relationships and trust on the platform.
People don’t just want to read self-promoting tweets—they want to see content that is valuable and interesting to them. If all you do is promote yourself and your papers, you are not providing value to your followers. Instead, you should aim to share a mix of content that is relevant to your field, interesting to your followers, and that helps to establish you as a thought leader. By doing this, you will build trust and credibility with your followers, and they will be more likely to engage.
Never mind the platform: content is king
We say this a lot, but it bears repeating: content is the most important factor when it comes to driving success online. No matter what platform you are using or which audience you are targeting, the quality of your content will always be the deciding factor when it comes to achieving success.
People often get hung up on the ins and outs of the different social media platforms. And it’s worth developing a basic understanding of how they work. But ultimately, people will click on your tweets or other social media posts because they are engaging, interesting and relevant. Learn how to produce that content, and you can do well on any platform. Click on the button below to find out how.