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9 buzzwords that ignite followers

9 buzzwords that ignite followers Drew Hubbard

What makes for a great post in social media? It's the question that haunts community managers and marketing directors. First, the bad news. You know it. I know it. But I have to point it out: The most effective posts and updates are going to depend on your community. If you have good analytics reporting and pay attention to your fans, you'll figure it out eventually. 

Now, for the good news: There are, in fact, a few magic bullets for Facebook and Twitter. The following discussion covers only Twitter and Facebook. The best research is available for these two platforms more than any others. So let's take a look at some of the available data to find the buzzwords that ignite your social media followers.

The buzzwords: "Please" and "thank you"

Why they're powerful
Didn't your mother teach you anything? Sheesh. The exact same behavior that keeps everyone in the real word from thinking that you're an asshole applies to the social media world too. Every time you post content for your fans, you are implicitly asking, "Take time from your day and look at this thing that I just posted." You're asking them to do something for you, so say "please." And if they engage, say "thank you."

Put those buzzwords to work
Look at these two imaginary Facebook updates and decide which one you would rather click on.

  • Win a free keychain from PancakeHut. Click here.

  • You can win a free PancakeHut keychain! Please see this page for details.

The point is, stop being such a jerk all the time. Your fans will definitely appreciate it, and they'll engage with your content more. It's easy to forget that there is an actual person (most of the time) on the other end of the conversation. So remember your manners.

The buzzwords: "Twitter" and "social media"

Why they're powerful
According to an analysis of 160,000 tweets, "Twitter" and "social media" appeared among the top 20 most common words found in retweeted content. In other words, if you use the words "Twitter" or "social media" in a tweet, your tweet has a statistically higher chance of being retweeted.

Put those buzzwords to work
Don't be afraid to get meta. Talk about Twitter on Twitter. Talk about social media across all of your social channels. Get your fan base involved in discussions about what you are currently doing or planning to do in social. Don't go nuts and reveal your entire strategy. But also don't be afraid to talk about how you use social media directly with your audience. (Source)

The Buzzwords: "You" and "RT"

Why they're powerful
When we see the word "you" in a social media update (Twitter or Facebook), we instantly denote it as a personal one. It's like a text-based bookmark. We can also speculate that "RT" evokes a similar response by "bookmarking" tweets that the authors expressly want retweeted. The user is given a choice: To RT or not to RT. This makes the experience more personal and therefore more engaging.

Put those buzzwords to work
There is a big difference between these two similar tweets:

  • "Does anybody know a great restaurant in Silver Lake?"

  • "Can you recommend a great restaurant in Silver Lake?"

Both tweets ask the same question, but only tweet No. 2 makes it personal. Tweets aren't read in groups. They're read by individual people. So remember the writer's rule and know your audience. When you read a tweet directed at an audience, it's hard to see how your input will make a difference -- kind of like voting. But when the message is to you, directly, it reads like a personal appeal. The great part is that it reads that way to everyone. (Source)

The buzzwords: "Chunky" and "flavor"

Why they're powerful
OK, fine. Not specifically "chunky" and "flavor." But visually descriptive and emotionally resonant words, in general, performed better in a recent analysis of 2800 Facebook page posts by UK brands (more on that in a minute.) For now, let's look at this funny word cloud from the UK Facebook analysis. The larger the word, the more times fans interacted with a post containing that word.

9 buzzwords that ignite followers

For your reference, here is a tag cloud of the most common words used in those same 2800 Facebook posts. Notice how much it differs from the previous image.

Put those buzzwords to work
The words "denim," "cream," "love," and "flavor" all elevated engagement. Each one evokes visual images and emotional memories. A successfully managed social media community is a safe place (free of spam, at least) where people with similar interests can share experiences with one another. At the present time, text is the most common way to share these experiences. Therefore, the words that we choose have a massive impact on how these experiences are perceived. When a user is able to connect a personal experience to a conversation in social media, whether that is the taste of cream of the feel of denim, that conversation becomes a lot more interesting. It's the same reason that you only want to look at the photos that you're in. (Source)

The buzzwords: TBD by you

Why they're powerful
The problem with statistical research is that it's impersonal. Findings are indicative of common trends, which don't always apply to your own, specific brand. So what can be done? More research, of course! There are some great software tools that can help you identify the specific buzzwords that ignite your own fan base.

Put those buzzwords to work
Find out your most retweeted updates here. I was shocked and surprised to discover that my own brand tops-out at 14 RTs as the all-time high.

9 buzzwords that ignite followers

SproutSocial is a paid but affordable social analytics tool that can help you dive much deeper into how your audience is engaging on Twitter and Facebook (LinkedIn and Google Analytics are also available). You can see how fans shared your content over the last 90 days. The pie chart shows the type of content that fans shared, and the bar graph shows the most common day of the week for sharing -- Wednesday, in my brand's case.

9 buzzwords that ignite followers

You can also see the performance of individual posts. In the last 90 days, a photo engaged users more than any other post.

9 buzzwords that ignite followers

Bonus! Buzzwords to avoid

The following list of least retweetable words (i.e., posts that contained these words were the least likely to be retweeted) suggests that mundane chatter on Twitter doesn't interest fans.

  1. game

  2. going

  3. haha

  4. lol

  5. but

  6. watching

  7. work

  8. home

  9. night

  10. bed

  11. well

  12. sleep

  13. gonna

  14. hey

  15. tomorrow

  16. tired

  17. some

  18. back

  19. bored

  20. listening


Some surprises on Facebook

  • Despite the conventional wisdom, including links does not necessarily equal better engagement.

  • Sometimes words aren't needed at all. If you are a visual brand, consider using primarily images and video.

  • Action words like "watch," "like," "look," and "click" tend to not engage users. So think twice before putting them in every post or including them in your social media best practices.(Source)


  • Remember to say "please" and "thank you."

  • Don't be afraid to talk about social media in social media.

  • Personally involve users on a one-on-one level.

  • Write updates using visually descriptive and emotionally evocative words.

  • Use available software tools to reveal the buzzwords for your own audience.

Drew Hubbard is the owner of LA Foodie.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

"A line of red safety matches" image via Shutterstock.

Drew is mainly a dad, but he's also a social media and content marketing guy. Originally from Kansas City and a graduate of The University of Missouri, Drew will gladly discuss the vast, natural beauty of the Show Me State. Drew and his wife,...

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to leave comments.

Commenter: Nancy Kenney

2012, July 23

Great information here. Appealing to the emotions of the Fan is often overlooked in daily delivery of social media content. Being human is a big part of saying and asking "please and thank you". Keep a list of buzz words in front of you to help keep focused.