In working on my presentation for the Twitter Marketing Tactics session at SMX West next week I’ve been looking at the various types of share and retweet buttons used on news sites.
I’m partial to the Tweetmeme button although displaying the number of tweets is a double-edged sword. It looks great when there are a lot of retweets; when there aren’t many it can weaken user perceptions of the content.
But regardless of which tool is used the formatting of the tweet text is something that not every site is making the most of.
When users click a retweet button they expect to see something along the lines of:
RT @[brand] [headline] [URL]
That exact format does not need to be followed but you want to minimize the work that users need to do before sending out the tweet. You also want to guide them toward using compelling text that will encourage further retweeting.
Some tools automatically utilize the page’s title tag instead of the headline which can add unnecessary phrases to the tweet and force users to clean it up before sending.
In other cases no headline or descriptive text is provided, as in this example from Time:
On this Silicon Alley Insider article clicking the Twitter link in the share toolbar brings up nothing but the full length URL, which is interesting because a shortened bit.ly URL is also displayed in the toolbar:
If users click the “Share” link on that same toolbar they are shown a second Twitter link which produces this tweet:
The problem here is that there is no branding for Silicon Alley Insider and users are less likely to click through when they don’t know the source. Also since SAI opted to use all caps in this particular headline and title tag the resulting tweet comes off like shouting.
Finally, don’t forget to include the URL as Newsweek did on this page:
That one is probably a technical glitch, but it’s a big one.