Monday, February 24, 2014

Eight ways to create a top government tweet

I was pleased to hear last week at the Social Business conference in Melbourne that an increasing number of Victorian government agencies were competing to reach the highest place in the Great Oz Gov Tweets daily Top 50 Government Tweets list.

When this competition is healthy it helps encourage agencies to compare themselves against their peers, exchange tips and improve their tweeting style. This can result in greater reach and better outcomes as more people read the important messages government is distributing on Twitter.

At Delib we’ve also been keenly interested in the daily Top 50 Government Tweets. Of the hundreds of government tweets each day, these are the messages that have successfully cut through the white noise.

Recently we analysed the top five tweets each day this year, as rated by Great Oz Gov Tweets, to understand what made them stand out from the crowd.

Analysing the cut-through tweets from the 53 government Twitter accounts that have made it to the top five so far this year, we’ve identified eight things that make a government tweet stand-out.

1. Gorgeous photography

People like images, so it is no wonder than the majority of top 5 tweets feature some form of picture.

And the more gorgeous the photography the better – which gives tourism accounts like @Australia@Melbourne@sydney_sider@southaustralia and @WestAustralia an advantage.

Each of these accounts makes excellent use of images to capture the spirit of their region and attracts a high number of retweets and favourites as a result.

Top Tweet from 6 February 
(within its first day received 61 retweets, 78 favourites and reached potentially 130,198 people)

2. Disaster news

Living in a natural disaster-prone country, it’s no surprise that tweets about the latest fire or flood situation attract a lot of attention.

Whether it be @CFA_Updates@MFB_NEWS@NSWRFS@AmbulanceVic@SAPoliceNews or @ACTPol_Traffic, when disaster strikes many Australians get onto Twitter to get the latest information on where to go and what to do from government.

So in the unfortunate event you have a disaster to manage, get on Twitter – and tweet regularly – to ensure that you’re getting the reach you want, with the messages you need to send.

Top Tweet from 20 February 
(within its first day received 76 retweets, 0 favourites and reached potentially 42,950 people)

3. Special events

Australians love a party.  Provided that governments are agile enough to tweet as things happen, people will happily retweet and favourite images and information about special or exclusive events.

This has worked well for accounts ranging from @ausoftheyear@OzDay@SydOperaHouse and @AuHCSouthAfrica.

Top Tweet from 16 February 
(within its first day received 25 retweets, 20 favourites and reached potentially 289,599 people)

4. Get edgy

This can be a tough approach for an agency or council to pull off, however if you can send a tweet that’s a little unusual or surprising you can often get a lot of attention from the public.

The standout in this area is @2011Census, however @CSIROnews’s dragon tweets and the ‘#shelfies’ from @Library_Vic have also done well.

Top Tweet from 3 February 
(within its first day received 61 retweets, 21 favourites and reached potentially 49,375 people)

5. Feel good

If you can’t do edgy, try for feel good instead.

Cutesy stories about lost teddy bears (@AusCustomsNews), of firefighters meeting Snoop Dog during a call and getting a photo (@MFB_NEWS) or of the many organ donations Australians make (@DonateLifeToday) humanise government agencies and make people feel good at the same time.

Top Tweet from 24 January 
(within its first day received 75 retweets, 27 favourites and reached potentially 63,474 people)

6. Iconic

What makes Australia Australia? There’s a raft of iconic places, foods and experiences that Australians, and often the world, associate with our country.

Using these icons in tweets is a sure way to gain the patriotic retweets, as @TroveAustralia found with the anniversary of the Tim Tam. This has also helped drive photos of Australia Day and the Sydney Opera House to the top – helping @OzDay and @SydOperaHouse reach the top five.

Top Tweet from 17 February 
(within its first day received 33 retweets, 9 favourites and reached potentially 79,569 people)

7. A chance to win

If you can give people an opportunity to win something they’ll flock to favourite your account (though the retweets may suffer).

@ZoosVictoria used this to good effect, topping the daily tweets lists for 9 January.

Top Tweet from 9 January 
(within its first day received 138 retweets, 18 favourites and reached potentially 36,131 people)

8. Follower frenzy

It is no surprise that the government Twitter accounts with the most followers are far more likely to be retweeted and favourited when sending out interesting tweets.

The classic example is @Australia, which made up 48.9% of the top 270 government tweets between 1 January and 23 February. While they do have great content, dominated by gorgeous images, their reach is magnified by having over 100,000 followers – far more than any other Australian government account.

If you’ve got a low follower count it’s a good idea to spend some time cultivating and building your following, forming alliances with other government accounts and otherwise growing your potential for reach.

Top Tweet from 1 January 
(within its first day received 2,399 retweets, 2,509 favourites and reached potentially 199,954 people)

In conclusion

If you aspire to cut through the noise of Twitter, try to cover off on as many of these eight things as possible.

The more you can manage in one tweet, the more likely you are to attract the attention and engagement of Australians.

We hope to see your tweets at the top of the Great Oz Gov Tweets list soon!

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