How to Write a Viral Twitter Thread – 15 Steps

How to Write a Viral Twitter Thread

If you’ve seen enough “🧵” and “👇” emojis to last a thousand lifetimes, we’re right there with you.

Creating a viral Twitter thread is possible, even with few subscribers.

But, there’s a reason you see so many threads on Twitter

Done right, you can amass a following worth hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars. Here’s how to write a great one.

For starters, your first tweet needs to be killer

Writing a great thread is like writing advertising headlines – if you don’t have an excellent start, nobody will read the rest. Many bad threads go viral because the first tweet is stellar.

Use this framework for your first tweet:

Counter-intuitive statement -> Quick evidence -> Cliffhanger

For a great example, look at this first tweet from Julian Shapiro.

This simple formula above makes up ~90% of viral Twitter threads, especially in the marketing space. Use it to get ahead.

After your first tweet, each reply should have one succinct idea

Keep people interested.

Each tweet in your thread should communicate one, specific idea.

Finally, include a CTA

You’d be surprised how many people will click on a promotional link after reading your thread. Include a link to something you want to promote at the end.

Now, get out there and go viral on Twitter (without the emojis overload, for crying out loud).

Below, we’ll include a bit more depth.

Steps to creating a viral Twitter thread

We lay out 15 steps below:

1. Find a great idea

You can take inspiration from old tweets, by connecting content from other creators or asking your audience.

2. The thread must answer one specific question

If addressing more than one topic or theme, it should ideally go in a separate Twitter thread.

3. Create an outline

Most threads fail because they’re not well organized.

Write down the question to answer.

Create bullets for each point. And, pick a format to utilize.

4. Lay out your thread format

There are three main options:

  • NCE (Name, context, example)
  • step-by-step walkthroughs, and
  • story mode

5. Find examples to back up your ideas

You can use the Twitter Advanced Search for tweets, Reddit, or your swipe file.

6. Batch different sections together to create longer tweets

Using all 280 characters is useful to keep more cohesiveness and also prevent a thread from getting super-long, which could reduce engagement and how many are willing to stick around to the end.

7. Add helpful images

Don’t add images just for the sake of it.

Instead, add visuals that illustrate your idea and give it further context.

8. The first tweet of the thread is your hook.

If it’s not good, nobody will read the rest.

A great first tweet draws attention, stirs up emotion, includes numbers, and sells benefits.

9. Write a final CTA tweet

Thank your community, ask them to follow you, or retweet your thread.

And if you want to get more retweets, run a giveaway.

10. Triple check for typos and readability and put all your content into your thread scheduler

Having a thread scheduler can help post at a more optimal time.

If you’re posting at 2 in the morning, it’ll probably reduce your engagement relative to posting in the afternoon.

11. Schedule the thread for the evening…

…because threads need time to capture momentum.

But test different times of the day.

12. Share the thread with 3-5 relevant people

Don’t pressure them on retweeting the thread.

Just ask them what they think about it.

13. Engage with comments as soon as possible

This helps you gain momentum and send positive signals to the algorithm.

14. After 3 hours, retweet the first tweet of the thread

Then, in the morning (if you shared it in the evening), undo the retweet, and retweet it again.

15. 24 hours after posting…

…ask yourself what went well, what didn’t, how many retweets you got, and if the hook was good enough.

If you don’t track your results, it’s hard to improve your game.

How do you go viral without followers?

Distribution is important.

If you don’t have fans and popular keywords and hashtags don’t pick it up, how will it get read?

You’ll need to find ways to get distribution.

If you have thousands of engaged followers it’s easy to get some traction.

Without them, you’ll need something to “seed” your thread to help it go viral.

Your thread may be well-researched and great, but the Twitter algorithm rewards engagement, which requires initial eyeballs.

Here’s how to find a solution to this problem:

a) Find people you enjoy discussing ideas with.

b) Share your Twitter threads with them.

c) Don’t ask for just likes. Ask for feedback. Retweets are great, especially if they have an audience. Comments are more valuable engagement than likes. It’s more difficult to comment than it is to click the heart button.

Your goal is not just vanity metrics, but to refine your skill of writing great threads.

Should you even write a Twitter thread? Should it be a blog post?

Sometimes you have a content idea, but it’s hard to decide whether it suits a Twitter thread or a blog post.

Or a whole newsletter issue rather than a quick LinkedIn post.

Short or long format?

If you want to get rid of this doubt forever, here’s a simple method to decide.

Both blog posts and social posts come with their pros and cons:

Social posts

Social posts are:

  • great to grow your audience
  • fast to compose, and
  • get you instant engagement

But…

  • they don’t last more than 48 hours, and
  • they hardly drive actions that go beyond engagement and follows

Blog posts

Blog posts, on the other hand:

  • can generate leads
  • last for years

But…

  • take more time and
  • are expected to meet a certain quality level

How to decide

You can remove doubt about the two options in just three steps:

Step one

Start every content idea as a short social post, be it a tweet or Facebook post.

Step two

After you wrote it, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will this content be useful to my audience for months and years to come?
  • Are people searching for this content now or in the near future?
  • Will this content resonate with folks who already subscribe to my blog/newsletter/platform?

If your content idea satisfies at least two of these criteria, then go for the long-form format.

Step three

Once you’re done writing it, share it in a short form post, and at the end, link your original article.

Exactly, go for both.

Use the engagement from social media to send direct traffic to your blog post and send the right signal to search engines’ algorithms.

Knowing this quirk in Twitter’s algorithm will improve your threads

Imagine you just fired a Twitter thread out into the Twittersphere.

Do you know what it looks like on people’s timelines?

Maybe you haven’t thought much about this. But you should.

Why this matters

When you post a thread, Twitter shows only your first tweet and your last two tweets in someone’s timeline.

All that juicy stuff you wrote in the middle? No one sees it unless they click.

People make split-second judgments when it comes to deciding what they’re going to click or read.

So if you bury your best insights in the middle of your thread, you risk hiding your best insights from most people… which means no one will bother to read it at all.

Here’s how to fix that:

  • Write your first tweet… Your first tweet should be a cocktail of counterintuitive insight + tiny bit of evidence + cliffhanger.
  • … then include a serious insight in the second-to-last tweet. This can be a summary of your thread, a hard-hitting insight, or something else. Whatever it is, it should be really damn good.

If you’re using a CTA as your last tweet, that’s totally OK. But make sure your first and second-to-last tweets are the best ones in the thread.

Software Blade

SoftwareBlade.com covers today's software and tomorrow's emerging technology.

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