Using Twitter Threads

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We’ve seen them, we’ve reacted to them, and we may have even made a few of them ourselves. Twitter threads. They’re everywhere on Twitter nowadays, and for good reason too. Threads are an excellent way to share a series of messages, all connected by a bigger message. To learn more about threads and how we can get the most from them, we invited Neil Parekh, the VP of events and communications at the digital event agency, Digimentors. Here’s a summary of our chat.

Guest: Neil Parekh
Topic: Using Twitter threads
Format: Eight questions directed at the guest. Everyone’s welcome to share.

The #TwitterSmarter chat is sponsored by Ahrefs.

Q1: Why should you post Twitter threads?

Threads are a great way to say more without creating more. In other words, when a single tweet (or 280 characters) isn’t enough to convey a message, threads come to the rescue.

As our guest pointed out with his own 2018 example from Social Media Weekend, Twitter threads are particularly handy when you’re live-tweeting from an event. Instead of sending desperate tweets out to your audience, if you thread them together, they get seen, liked, and shared together. This means all of your messages are catapulted to your audience—not just one.

As our friends from VirtuDesk added, threads are also a good way to tell a story in a series of tweets. I’ve personally used twitter threads to narrate a case study—they’re so much easier to share and consume than a PDF or a webpage.

Q2: When should you post a Twitter thread, as opposed to an image or text-based tweet?

When one tweet just won’t cut it. I’ve also seen threads being used to promote a series of events like webinars and workshops. The benefit of doing a thread of tweets, as our guest said, is that you can tag multiple people and add many hashtags to widen your reach.

In fact, to illustrate how useful a threaded tweet can be, Neil also explained how he’s been promoting #NYTReadalong with a thread every week. He intends to thread all of these threads together so they become one mega-thread of invaluable tweets—all about #NYTReadalong. Back in the day, people used to bind a year’s worth of Reader’s Digest magazines into one big book because it made it easier to read and refer to later.

Threads of threads is the modern version of a bound Reader’s Digest.

Then again, a picture is worth a thousand words. You can still totally add an image or GIF to your threads, as Lance explained. It’ll only make your tweet and thread cooler. How cool is that GIF?!

Q3: How do you start a Twitter thread?

Take a deep breath and tweet away.

On a serious note, though, think about what your thread is going to be and how you’ll begin. As our guest mentioned, the first tweet will serve as the intro to every subsequent tweet. Every time you add a tweet to your thread, that first tweet will get a boost of attention. That’s why it’s worth thinking about your first tweet in a thread.

Neil also shared a couple of examples. One was a thread he created as a guest on #ContentChat. It includes a clear image, indicating what the tread is about, relevant hashtags, and accounts. Neil also suggested that you could tag up to ten (relevant) people in your intro tweet.

His second example was a thread from United Way, promoting their Lobby Day.

Q4: Share some best practices for posting a Twitter thread.

One of the most useful practices is numbering your tweets. If you know you’re going to have three tweets in your thread, you could number them as 1/3, 2/3, and 3/3. However, if you’re at an event and you don’t know how many tweets you’ll thread together, start numbering them as 1/, 2/, 3/. Some people also prefer to number them as 1/n, 2/n, 3/n, using the universal ‘n’ to represent a possible infinite.

Twitter threads and replies to tweets look similar. So it’s important to make it clear to your reader that you intentionally created a thread of tweets. To do this, add some signals—numbering is one such signal. Another one is using the same hashtag in each tweet to emphasize commonality. You can also explicitly tell your audience (ideally in your intro tweet) that you’re starting a thread. These pointers will help set the right expectations.

Alyx shared another good tip: don’t overdo your threads. It’s easy to get carried away and add too many tweets to your thread, but when you do so, you might also exhaust your reader. The ideal length of a thread varies by audience and the nature of the core message, but be aware of your audience’s limits.

Q5: What are some challenges of posting a thread?

Some of the most common challenges are also the most annoying. Clicking away, going back or forward from the page you’re on, losing track of the numbers, replying to the wrong tweet in the tread are all normal problems. There’s no magic solution to fix these issues. However, as our guest suggested, if you lose track of your thread, don’t just reply to your intro tweet. That will treat it as a mere reply rather than adding it to your thread.

If you’re engaging with someone else’s thread, though, reply to the first tweet of their thread so that your reply is seen every time the first tweet gets attention.

Another challenge, as our friends from GiveWP rightly pointed out, is that threads can get busy fairly quickly. Though engagement is a good thing, but can also muddle the order of your thread when it shows up on someone’s feed. This is so common that most people are inherently aware of it when they see a thread. However, this is where numbering can be of great help.

Q6: How do you measure the success/impact of threaded tweets?

A good way to measure the impact of your threaded tweets is to compare their reach (impressions, expansions, click throughs, replies, etc.) with the reach of your individual tweets.

As our guest explained, when you tag relevant people and add hashtags in each tweet of a thread, you’ll drastically increase the thread’s reach.

Jelle also pointed out that you’ll have to measure success both qualitatively and quantitatively. It’s important to understand what your Twitter Analytics shows, but it’s also equally important to observe what your audience says about your thread—do they find it helpful? Are they referencing it in other conversations? Are they bookmarking it? All of these details will help you measure your impact.

Q7: Can Twitter threads really help you improve engagement and click throughs?

A study from Buffer suggested that threads perform better than tweets with links. Check out the details of the study here:

Our guest also noted that people will read through threads, even though only the first one might get the most number of retweets and likes.

But of course, threads won’t magically increase your click through rates. You have to do some of the work, too. Just like you do with individual tweets. As Madalyn said, include a strong call to action (CTAs) on your images with a link to your website. Actively invite people to engage with and respond to your threads.

Q8: What are some tools you can use for Twitter threads?

You can use tools like Chirr App, Typefully, and Thread Creator to create Twitter threads.

Neil also told us about Thread Reader, which unpacks long threads into an easy-to-read format. This is a great tool when, as we mentioned earlier, there are a lot of replies to your threads and the original gets a bit muddled.

In an earlier tweet in the chat, our guest mentioned that third-party tools used to create threads don’t allow you to tag people in images. However, during the course of our chat, we realized that such a tool does indeed exist—Tweepsmap is the first app that allows you to schedule Twitter threads and tag Twitter accounts in images.

Well, that’s all from me, folks. Thanks for reading through, and for more insights from our chat with Neil, browse through this Twitter thread.

You can also browse through all of Neil’s answers in this one mega thread he created.

If you think this summary is pretty good, you’ll love the real-time chat. Join us every Thursday at 1pm ET on #TwitterSmarter. Afterward, we also hang out on Twitter Spaces at 5pm ET to continue our chat. Catch you there!

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About me, Narmadhaa:

I write all the things—marketing stuff for the bills; haiku and short stories for the soul. A social media enthusiast, I hang out with the #TwitterSmarter chat crew, and am always happy to take on writing gigs.

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