How to tweet on Twitter without strangling the birdie

Twitter,tweets,micro blogging,blogs,writing,Suzan St Maur,online marketing,social media

What are your favorite terrible tweets?

Anyone who spends time on Twitter will gradually see a pattern of different tweet styles emerging, not all of which contribute much to the greater good. Having only been a keen Twitterer for a year or two I can’t claim to be an expert, but speaking as a professional writer I cringe at the time and energy that’s wasted on what I think are bad or inappropriate tweets.

Of course, everyone has their own view of what constitutes good tweeting. Already large sums of money have been spent generating analyses that tell you your tweets should consist of XX percent personal and YY percent business content, they should go out at intervals of no more or less than ZZ minutes, they should contain no more than XX @ symbols and YY hashtags, and so-on. Who would have thought so much science could be found in a mere 140 characters, huh. And not surprisingly, few people seem to take any notice of it.

Before I launch into my attack on what I think are bad tweets, it’s only fair that I should reveal how I put my own together. And please feel free to critique this! They fall into one of these brackets:

  • Observations, articles, news stories etc. that interest me and/or make me laugh
  • Conversational posts with people I know, but out of courtesy to them and other readers I try to include a précis of the original topic, or respond via a retweet
  • Retweets of friends’ and followers’ posts when I feel they’re worth sharing
  • Posts about and one or two of my own recent books

I try to create a good balance of all four. In every case my main criterion is to write something everyone can understand, either in the style of a newspaper headline, or as a short but self-contained thought. Here, now, are some of the stereotype tweets that irritate me. Do they irritate you?

THE ENGLISH EXPERT:  You need free artikles for the webbsite and we got some you want so clicks here go for free stuff you enjoy read. (If you can understand what this is all about, that is.)

THE STRONG, SILENT TYPE:  http://xxxxxxx.yyy (That’s it – no text. You are commanded to click on the link and I don’t need to tell you why. Now just f***ing well do it.) [Read more…]

Do you know the latest news in content writing?

Do you know the latest news in content writing?Once a month HTWB picks out the best/most useful articles on content writing and allied topics, from around the web. Here’s the choice for October 2015:

  • Where next with live video
  • Educating readers
  • Future of digital marketing
  • Email: yet another comeback?
  • Are questions in headlines powerful?
  • Facebook wants your blog posts
  • …and Shelley tells us how to take advantage of that 
  • Twitter finally stops strangling us
  • Giggling headshot: whatever next?
  • …and 2 crazy Canadians joke about business writing
  • Read on!

[Read more…]

Help! What writing styles should I use on different social media platforms? Part 2

Help! What writing styles should I use on different social media platforms? Part 2Last week, Amanda from Birmingham wrote in the following question:
“I want to be sure I get my writing style right for platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest and so-on. I run a small arts and crafts business from home and I have a business page set up for that on Facebook. Do I need to differentiate my style from one to another and if so how?”

[Read more…]

How not to be rude on Twitter – quickie post

Twitter,rude,manners,tweets,favorites,retweetsA quickie post on online manners … how well do you look after your new followers, retweeters and favoriters on Twitter?

Do they just receive a banged-out autoresponse that fools no-one in its insincerity?

Or do they get the feeling that maybe – just maybe – a real person might have written this message of acknowledgement? [Read more…]

How to add value (and traffic) to retweets and shares

Write longer comments and tweets to get better trafficIf you use social media a lot you’ll often find yourself sharing and retweeting not only your own posts, tweets and articles, but also other people’s. Sharing helps to spread the word – but there’s so much more mileage you can get with just a few extra words.

I have found this out by accident, really, by watching my visits / reads stats here on HTWB. Posts of my own that I share get significantly higher traffic if I write a short (in the case of Twitter, very short) piece to accompany the title and URL, than they do if I just share title and URL alone.

Again in the case of Twitter where realistically the limit is 120 characters max, often it’s better not to use the title, but instead write a “teaser” line that’s more personal and less direct than a title can be.

For example … my recent article Restaurant jargon: gastronomic terms demystified got a respectable number of visits from Twitter when I tweeted the title with the link. But when I tweeted You’ll never be able to read a menu and keep a straight face again the visits shot up by about 40 percent.

Sometimes there’s only room on Twitter  for you to insert a couple of words. But even that can spark extra interest in the tweet, among your followers. For example (my comments in caps)…

BBC News – Sweden: Wedding ring ‘found on carrot’ after 16 years // 24 CARROT GOLD?

Brains of rats connected allowing them to share information via internet // AH, SO WE HAVE THE RATNET NOW

Edinburgh Zoo Pandas Listen To Marvin Gaye’s Mood Music Before Hanky Panky // MARVIN GAYE? MEH

BBC News – ‘Oldest marathon man’ Fauja Singh runs last 10km race // WONDERFUL MAN!

How to make a money vision board! // GREAT IDEA TO INSPIRE YOUR BUSINESS

As you know, Pinterest is mainly about sharing images rather than getting people to link through and read something. I get much more traffic from Pinterest now that I write a short descriptive piece of the article concerned and make it clear what I want readers to do next, rather than just look at the picture. For example…

This is the pin I wrote for the restaurant jargon article …

Restaurant jargon: gastronomic terms demystified, part 1 … I love eating out – don’t you? But so often we can be disappointed by the realities emerging from the yummy-sounding jargon on the menus. Here is part one of my, er, interpretations of those terms. Please add your thoughts to these ….!

The cover of my new book How To Smile Through Cancer, with these words to describe it and make it clear that it’s a new book, not a picture:

How To Smile Through Cancer … Despite many cancers now becoming much more survivable, in itself it is not funny. What can be funny, though, are the often hilarious things that can happen when dealing with doctors, nurses, hospitals, chemo-baldness, prostheses, ultra-sound tests, examinations and loads more ancillary issues which invariably you trip over while going through your cancer journey. That’s what this new book is all about…

And another article which got a lot of traffic from Pinterest, OK, hands up! Who stole SOCIAL?

OK. Hands up! Who stole SOCIAL? …If you’re fond of writing, there’s nothing more irritating than a bunch of knobhead technofreaks coming along and snatching a perfectly respectable word to use for their own nefarious purposes … read on for some laughs with humorist and business writer Suzan St Maur from

Do the same for your shares of other people’s articles, posts, tweets, etc. and help increase their traffic too

About an article in the Harvard Business Review, based on Don’t anesthetize your colleagues with bad writing

This is an interesting follow-up of an article (not one of mine, sadly!) called “Don’t anesthetize your colleagues with bad writing” that appeared in the Harvard Business Review a while ago – there’s a link to the original article further down on this page FYI…

About an article written by a colleague whose opinions I respect very much, How to fix three common online marketing mistakes …

Good article by my friend and client Ann Handley from the US site Do you agree with what she says about social media?

About another article, Writing with personality for a business blog

Really excellent blog post by a friend of my son’s, who has graduated from Uni and got a job in Social Media, God help him… 😉

About a case study of employees with disabilities, Best practice case studies, the National Trust

The National Trust run a course called Passport to Your Future, the aim of which is to encourage people from a diverse range of backgrounds to think about working in the Heritage sector. This is the story of one young man who benefited hugely from the scheme

blogging,writing,blog writing,business,newsletter,,How To Write Better,Suzan St MaurAnd so-on. It’s not rocket science; it merely takes a little longer to add a sentence or two to explain why you like the post or article, and why others should like it. It’s almost a courtesy; and it shows that the share has been done by a live human, not a software robot. It really does increase traffic, too.

What are your experiences with shares and how much to write about them?

More ways to generate value (and traffic): (instant downloads)

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write
“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English
The MAMBA Way to make your words sell“…how to think  your way to superbly successful sales writing

photo credit: kdonovan_gaddy via photopin cc

You’ve only made it when you lose your capital letter

Hmmmm…doesn’t really have a credible ring to it, does it?

Do you think “suzanstmaur” could become a generic term for better writing? No, I didn’t think so either. Ah, well.

However when you hit fame, or infamy, as the case may be… (“Infamy, infamy, why do people have it Infamy?”) …moving from name to generic term is simply a matter of dropping the initial capital letter to a lower case one. You go from being a proper noun to a common one, which is something of an irony considering that to achieve this you need to have acquired an audience of gazillions and been around for a long time.

No capital initial and being a common noun means you’ve made it to immortality, so it seems.

What does it take to move from “Facebook” to “facebook?”

…probably a few hard facts like having become an institution with around 900 million users or so … this does help. Although the word “facebook” is a trumped-up jollification it has, with that many folks using it, earned its place in the generic words hall of fame.

And as for Twitter? Well, the name itself hasn’t quite earned a lower-case “t” status yet, but “tweets,” “tweeting,” “tweeted” and other derivatives certainly have. Shame on you if you dare to stick a capital “T” on any of those.

How about Google? Oh, these kiddies really have earned their lower case status. Wherever you look both online and offline, you’re told to “google” this or that for further information. When I write about “googling” these days I feel embarrassed if I accidentally capitalize the first letter.

“G”oogle is just so passé, and so rude; it suggests that the writer/perpetrator hasn’t quite understood the hold that G/google has used to er, grasp the world by the Spherical Objects and become its sole, serious source of proper information. None of us would make that mistake a second time, huh.

Other useful generic terms

Having gotten really interested in this topic I consulted G (oh sorry) google and wound up looking through Wikipedia’s list (and Wikipedia is still stigmatized by a capital “W”) of generics and genericized trademarks. I was gob-smacked – an expressive British term – to find out the following (excerpts only) terms which also have joined the verbal Hall of Fame as terms we now use in everyday speech.

Aspirin … still a Bayer trademark name for acetylsalicylic acid in about 80 countries, including Canada and many countries in Europe, but declared generic in the USA.

EscalatorOriginally a trademark of Otis Elevator Company.

LanolinTrademarked as the term for a preparation of water and the wax from sheep’s wool.

LinoleumFloor covering, originally coined by Frederick Walton in 1864, and ruled as generic following a lawsuit for trademark infringement in 1878; probably the first product name to become a generic term.

Nurofen … brand name in the UK for Ibuprofen, being the name used by the Boots Company plc who first developed the drug.

PetrolCarless, Capel and Leonard invented the trade name “Petrol” for refined petroleum spirit, called “gasoline” in North America.

ThermosOriginally a Thermos GmbH trademark name for a vacuum flask; declared generic in the U.S. in 1963.

ZipperOriginally a trademark of B.F. Goodrich.

And so it goes on, but here is the real humdinger:

Heroin: originally a trademark of Bayer AG…..

Is your name or brand about to lose its capital letter and become a generic sensation? Let me know, and share your thoughts!

Give your writing some star quality:

“Super Speeches”…how to write and deliver them well

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English