Content: To Optimize or Not To Optimize [Twitter Tips]

image There’s an interesting thread of conversations that’s worming it’s way through the blogosphere, one that should be of particular interest to content producers of all types, be they journalist / editorial types or bloggers with a corporate / company focus. The thread concerned, initially, how to make your content more “re-tweetable” on Twitter, but is evolving into a discussion about making your content fundamentally more shareable on other social networks as well.

It was started by Chris Brogan in a post where he offered a few solid tips on how to make your content more attractive to those prone to re-tweet:

– Make sure your post info has room for your original info plus a retweet. If your original post is close to 140 characters, the person retweeting has to edit your post to send it back out. Smells like work? People won’t make extra effort to retweet you if they have to edit your posts.

– Make sure you use URL shorteners like bit.ly or is.gd or ow.ly (there are dozens) to get back more of your real estate.

– If you’re going to tweet a URL, give folks a sense of what they’re clicking into. For instance, I use (video) or (youtube) when pointing to a YouTube video. And make sure you use (NSFW) on things that are Not Safe For Work.

– The more helpful or entertaining your tweet, the more likely people will take an action.

– The more jumbled with @ names and multiple urls and hashtags your tweet is, the less likely it will be retweeted.

– People will gladly retweet causes (unless you fatigue us).

– Starting a tweet with an @ means that a good chunk of folks won’t see it.

– Retweet other people and promote other people 15x to every 1 time of your effort.

– Don’t tweet every damned thing you write about or do. Folks will fatigue quickly.

– Befriend and add value to the best retweeters. It’s a live network, a human network, a give-and-take relationship.

image Adam Singer picked up the thread, though and ran with it. He felt a little rubbed raw by Chris’s post because, as he put it, “I think it is a better strategy to make good content that isn’t tailored to a specific platform than try and design something for one network.”

He went point by point on Chris’s suggestions and essentially re-iterated the point that content is king, and if you create good content, ignoring optimization in favor of focusing on your copy and content will win in the long run.

As someone who has been producing content prolifically on the web for over ten years now, I can promise you that you won’t get ahead simply by producing great content – some optimization is required. I don’t totally disagree with Adam’s point of view, however – focusing too hard on optimizing for Twitter (just as optimizing for Digg or other traffic funnels) is generally a bad idea, since it takes focus away from what you’re really doing, which is being creative and articulate.

For those that actually want to reach an audience and really maximize your reach, I strongly suggest that Chris’s tips be abided – if you want to focus on expanding your Twitter influence.

Not every post and piece of content is meant for that audience, though. Every tool and social network has it’s own unique culture and quirks. Optimizing for one won’t guarantee success on another. Sometimes, optimizing for one can guarantee failure on another, even.

So, to build on the ideas both Adam and Chris have taken time to assemble, I’d say that it’s best to have a handle on best practices for promoting on a wide variety of networks like the ones Adam lists: Delicious, StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit, FriendFeed, and Twitter. You know your audience better than anyone, so take the time with each bit of content you produce, think about where it fits, and then optimize away!

Mark 'Rizzn' Hopkins

Mark “Rizzn” Hopkins is the Founding Editor of SiliconANGLE, as well as the creator of and Executive Producer for theCUBE. He’s aBitcoin early adopter, as well as a blogging, podcasting and social media pioneer. Prior the founding of SiliconANGLE, Hopkins worked as Associate Editor at Mashable during its formative years. Prior to his career in startups and media, he worked as a developer for large corporations like Nokia, IBM, Apple and Cox Communications. Hopkins lives in Dallas, Texas with his wife and two children.

4 Comments

  1. I don't think there is anything wrong with optimizing content for SEO (in fact I've shared my SEO strategy publicly) but optimizing for specific social media sites is just a matter of writing a catchy headline, IMO. Leave the rules aside and let creativity reign! Good points all around, I think both strategies could work out for sure – I personally enjoy clever headlines though and don't necessarily agree with forcing them into a box. Techdirt is one site for example that frequently writes headlines way too long for Twitter, but look at their popularity. I still think if you persevere content is king…optimizing for SEO helps but optimizing for social media is being compelling.

  2. The way I view it that your strategy should fit your goals. Not all content projects are long term projects – perhaps it's something built around an event or a series with an end date or something – you've got a limited amount of time to generate as much buzz as possible. In that instance, you've got to evaluate which segments of your social graph your content appeals to and where they are.

    From a different perspective, people will pay a lot of money to insert their message or content into other's attention streams, and anything you can do to decrease those costs by optimizing or tweaking behaviors or headlines here and there – well, that's money you don't hafta spend.

    In the long run, though, for most regular content producers, the actual quality of the content is far more important than any optimisation regimes one may undertake, you're absolutely right on that.

  3. SMO – Social Media Optimization

    That sounds like an industry waiting to be born and it won't come from the PR side

  4. Oh boy – did we just invent a new acronym here?

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