· 4 min read
Last week, Twitter, in its peak-Twitterness, tweeted that it is testing an edit button. And how’d they tweet about it, you ask?
No capitalization. No punctuation. The tiniest dose of snark at the end. And over 100,000 retweets with 360,000 likes.
None of that language—or those numbers—is common for a product announcement. Sure, there’s a boost because it’s literally Twitter tweeting about the most-tweeted feature request on Twitter, but the lesson here: Adding personality to your product announcements can generate huge engagement.
Rather than just gush praise and share my own POV, I figured we should talk to the source! I chatted with Ashley Tyra, Twitter’s head of editorial and voice, who was kind enough to share details on Twitter’s approach to this tweet, past hits (yes, including that Fleets tweet), the process, and more.
Be yourself, forever and always
Twitter’s Twitter tone has become legendary on the platform. Over the last few years, it has shifted from the staid corporate tone to this brilliance:
Its editorial tweets (tweets not tied to company or product news) are bangers. Few brands achieve the virality that the home team hits on a consistent basis. The magic at Twitter, though, is this tone never stops.
“When we look specifically at product tweets, one of the things that we want to do is make sure the product tweets have the same thought and consideration that we put into our editorial tweets,” Tyra said.
So many brands dip their toes into personality, then immediately toss on suits and ties when it’s ~official announcement~ time and wonder where the engagement went. Not Twitter—the company is always itself, even on topics as hot as the edit button.
The secret isn’t personality, it’s personality + info
While personality is important in today’s attenuated social landscape, you can’t be all hat and no cattle. You need the info, too. For Twitter, it’s a two-ingredient formula.
“It’s really about accurately communicating the information. The only real thing is ‘Make sure it’s clear,’” Tyra said. “The second level of that: What is the emotion behind it? People on the platform are getting a new product, testing a new product, losing a product—what do people feel about it? We try to bring that empathy and emotion to the product work. We felt the same way with Fleets.”
A Social Media Newsletter by Jack Appleby
Tyra is referencing my favorite product death notice of all time—when Twitter killed off Fleets, its Instagram Stories competitor.
Most brands would quietly sunset its failures. Twitter turned it into a party, hitting that tone of authenticity we constantly ask of brands while earning a half million likes in the process.
Write, then rewrite, then rewrite
It’s fun to munch popcorn and watch the final tweets fly, so I asked Tyra about the specifics of Twitter’s process for product tweets. Much of what you’d expect happens—emails and meetings about the product details, approval processes, getting buy-in from all stakeholders—but there’s one note I specifically want to highlight.
“We open up a Google doc and start doing a free write. First, we start with the very straightforward ones—once you nail the clarity line, you can start to have fun with the rest. We probably write 20 to 50 options for ourselves, then arrange them—what are the ones floating to the top? Which ones are making us laugh? Which ones do we have that gut reaction to?”
We’re asked to do so much in social roles that it’s easy to write a handful of drafts, pick one, and go. One reason Twitter goes viral? They really do write and write and write to craft the perfect tweet.
Okay, now your turn
I asked Tyra what advice she’d give brands looking to add more personality to their product posts.
“When you’re talking about yourselves in this way, when you’re announcing things, that’s your bread and butter. If you’re going to announce a product, if you’re announcing a new burger, if you’re announcing a new Lego set—those are tweet moments where you have a clear brief to talk about yourself, and you should have fun with that.”
Have fun with it. It’s the forever best advice, and it’s a reminder we need in these big news moments.