Beyond 140-Characters: How to Use Twitter Threads to Tell Longer Stories

Twitter has a 140-character limit that can be annoying at best, especially when there is a lot to say about a topic you’re passionate about. One way of going around this to tell a compelling story is by using twitter threads.

 3 Twitter Thread Rules to Observe

  1. Every tweet within the thread should build the overall story but be able to make sense on its own (more on why this is important, later).
  2. Every tweet within the tread should be accompanied by #hashtags and appropriate mentions of people related to the conversation.
  3. If the thread is a re-write of an existing article, provide a link in the last tweet (this story first appeared on…)

Finding Story-Worthy Material

A simple way to find stories is by saving content that you find particularly useful e.g. instructional how-to articles, articles with movie-like story arcs e.g. the capture Elchapo, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s journey to the moon, an unusual business start-up story etc.

 These types of stories are in plenty in online publications like Forbes, New York Times, the Economist. Alternatively, you can also find stories in documentaries, TV interviews, books and whitepapers. The trick is to find content that is not only interesting to you but that which has proved able, to elicit interest in audiences.

Find content that is already popular

The other route is to choose topics in your industry that you have thought leadership opinions on, in this case, you will almost be creating an article tailor-made for twitter.

For instance, in fintech, Europe’s Payments Service Directive II (PSD2) is buzzing right now. Globally, Facebook’s entry into payments through Libra (and the reaction of regulators ) is newsworthy, you can easily attract eyeballs by providing commentary on this. If time is a problem, then working with a freelance writer should help ease the burden.

Rewrite Content for Twitter

Let’s face it, taking a Forbes article and re-posting it-paragraph for paragraph-as a  Twitter thread doesn’t add any value to anybody; readers might as well just go to the original article.

The key to repurposing content for twitter is to identify the vital parts of the story you are re-telling; an introduction to the character or issue, a middle (where a status quo is established), point of change, an end, and turn those into fresh, shareable tweets.

Pick the paragraphs that represent these parts, open a word document and rewrite them in your own words. Make sure each tweet can stand on its own should they be retweeted.

For example, if you are creating a twitter thread out of the juicy parts of Facebook’s Libra Whitepaper:

‘Facebook’s Libra aims to bring together some of the largest companies in the world including @Uber, @Spotify and @Mastercard, who will all have financial obligations to jumpstart the Libra ecosystem.’

Such a tweet, though part of a thread can be retweeted and it’ll still make sense independently. However, watch what happens when you replace the first two words:

The new currency aims to bring together some of the largest companies in the world including @Uber, @Spotify, @ Mastercard who will have financial obligations to jumpstart Libra’s ecosystem.’

New currencywhich is that? The tweet no longer provides context outside the thread. Watch out for this.

Make all tweets within your thread able to make sense on their own

Mentioning the companies and people involved in your story will often get you retweets and subsequent exposure to their audiences. Using #hashtags should give your thread visibility within twitter’s search engine.

Depending on the topic or your industry; use images, videos, GIFs and memes within the tweets. According to research by Twitter, the use of multimedia increases tweets engagement 3-4 times. Furthermore, multimedia helps add a voice to the story you’re retelling; a picture or meme can add humour, sarcasm or concern which the original content may not have captured.

Remember that the premise for fair use of content is strengthened, if you can make it transformative; adding value to create new insights, meanings and understanding. Strive to add a new voice to the articles you re-write in threads and you will get engagement.

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