Using retweets to assess content virality
Recently I’ve been running an experiment:
- Tweet an insight, idea, or quote
- See how many people retweet it
- If it catches, then write a blog post elaborating on the topic
My recent Growth Hacker post was the result of one such tweet, which you can see above in my Crowdbooster dashboard. I wrote it on a whim, but after the retweets, I developed it into a longer and more comprehensive blog post. (Note that sometimes a tweet is not suitable to developed into a blog post, but most of the time this technique works)
Why this works
This works because the headline is key. It spreads the content behind it.
This is especially true on Twitter, but it’s also true for news sites that will pick up and syndicate your content. If that headline is viral and the content behind it is high quality, there’s a multiplier effect – sometimes a difference of 100X or more. Naturally, you want to optimize the flow of how people interact with your content, starting with what they see first: The title.
After all, what’s a better test for whether the following will be viral:
New blog post: Growth Hacker is the new VP Marketing [link]
than the tweet:
Growth Hacker is the new VP marketing
It’s a natural test.
I’ll also argue that if you can express the core of your idea in a short, pithy tweet, then that’s a good test for whether the underlying blog post will be interesting as well. Great tweets are often provocative insights or mesmerizing quotes, and there’s a lot to say by examining the issues more deeply. Contrast this to writing a long, unfocused, laundry-list essay examining a topic from all angles, taking no interesting positions or risks along the way – now that’s a recipe for boredom.
Combining virality with a high-quality product, of course, is the key to a lot of things – not just blogging :)
Don’t waste your time writing what people don’t want to read
Testing your ideas like this allows you to invest more time and effort into the content – a clear win.
Personally, I love writing long-form content that dives deep into an area, and also enjoy reading it as well. Unfortunately, writing a blog post often takes a long time – an hour or more. Use this technique to make it safer to spend more time, think more deeply, and research more broadly on you write. In my experience, writing a high-quality, highly retweetable blog post once per month is better than writing a daily stream of short, low-quality posts that no one will read. Plus, it takes less time.
As a smart guy once said: “Do less, but better.”
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