One Simple Twitter Trick That Will Save You Hours on Content Curation

Andrea Fryrear on Social Media Marketing

Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that Twitter can be a powerful tool in the battle for our audience’s attention.

If you can craft a steady, high-quality stream of content on your Twitter feed, then you can gain a following that will be an invaluable resource when it comes time to spread the word about your own content or products.

But there are two big problems with running a high quality Twitter feed:

  1. How to create a consistent stream of tweets (without having Twitter run your life).
  2. How to avoid rehashing the same conversations that everyone else is currently having while still being interesting.

Fortunately, there’s one simple search trick that will help you solve both of these problems.

Searching Twitter One Year Ago

A few simple search parameters will give you access to tweets about your topic of choice that were popular during a particular date range.

By searching for today’s date a year ago, you’ll be able to quickly and easily tell what stories got good engagement then and are therefore more likely to get engagement now.

Here’s how you search for tweets using the hashtag “contentmarketing” between November 2, 2014 and November 3, 2012:

#contentmarketing since:2014-11-02 until:2014-11-03

Here’s what the top of the results looked like (without promoted tweets):

twitter advanced search results

By simply scanning the retweets area of all these archived tweets we can determine what was particularly popular on this date a year with people who are interested in content marketing. Here are two of the most popular:

popular CMI tweet

popular jeff bullas tweet

How to Tweet the Best Articles

Keep in mind that if you really want to provide value to your audience you can’t just retweet the popular things blindly. You can’t even simply copy the shared URLs and repost them. URL shorteners aren’t always reliable after so much time, websites go down, and URLs themselves sometimes change.

To get the most out of this cool search, you’ll need to identify the tweets that seem most relevant and interesting and then actually click on the links that they share to make sure they still work. Then your best bet is to write a whole new tweet (based on the successful one of course).

For example, in our earlier search we took a look at a few of the results and found quite a few whose URLs weren’t working anymore.

404 from twitter results

In these case you may need to search for the article’s title to rediscover it, but that’s a decision you’ll have to make based on the time you want to invest in this search.

If your goal is to quickly complete your search for curated content, you can skip over articles with broken links.

If, however, you want to drive the highest possible engagement in your Twitter feed, you’ll be more likely to find hidden treasures by searching out the original URLs of the most popular tweets from last year.

Why High Tweet Engagement Matters

Tweets have a remarkably short life span (24 minutes is the current estimate), so you need to make an impact quickly. When you write a tweet that resonates with your audience, it can get shared far and wide in a matter of minutes.

This can net you tons of new followers who see retweets from their own network, and you might even have a chance to get featured on Twitter’s new Moments section. 

Launched in October 2015, Moments collects tweets that are important “in the moment.” According to Twitter’s post about the release:

most moments are assembled by our curation team, and some are contributed by partners like Bleacher Report, Buzzfeed, Entertainment Weekly, Fox News, Getty Images, Mashable, MLB, NASA, New York Times, Vogue and the Washington Post. While we’re working with a small group of partners now, we plan to expand it in the future.

Smaller accounts may not have much of a chance of getting in on current conversations when these big names are curating Moments, but if you can bring a previously popular topic back to the forefront your chance might increase.

I don’t have any empirical data to back this up so far, but if you’ve managed to crack the Moments code I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Benefits of Sharing Other’s Content on Twitter

Long time MarketerGizmo readers will be familiar with our own conflicted relationship with content curation as part of a content marketing strategy, but we’ve never hesitated about using it on social media.

This approach makes sense if you consider the original purpose of Twitter (and all social media networks): creating and maintaining connections between real people.

In our personal relationships we rarely like to hang out with friends who only talk about themselves; the same holds true for social media “friends.”

If you want people to be truly invested in your social media marketing, you need to behave like a responsible citizen of those social networks. That means sharing cool stuff that people in your network are doing, as well as unique insights that you come across about topics that might interest your friends and followers.

The often-cited 4-1-1 rule is a good guide. Here’s an explanation from Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute:

For every six pieces of content shared via social media (think Twitter for example):

  • Four should be pieces of content from your influencer target that are also relevant to your audience. This means that 67 percent of the time you are sharing content that is not yours, and calling attention to content from your influencer group.
  • One piece should be original, educational content that you have created.
  • One piece should be sales-related — like a coupon, product notice, press release, or some other piece of content that no one will likely pay attention to.

While the numbers don’t have to be exact, it’s the philosophy that makes this work. When you share influencer content, they notice. And you share this content without asking for anything in return (so that when you do need something someday, those influencers are more likely to say yes).

This is an indisputably successful strategy on Twitter. Now think about how much more goodwill you can garner by sharing older content from influencers.

If you share their article from a year ago, you’re giving it another shot of life and showing your interest in their whole body of work and not just the latest piece.

It’s like a bonus version influencer marketing.

Using the Past for Your Future Tweets

A simple search for what was popular in this week last year can be a super efficient way to fill up your sharing queue in a fraction of the time it would take you to perform dozens of searches, troll back through your email newsletters, or mine your own Twitter feed.

Use this tool and a little bit of editorial insight, and you’ll be getting better engagement and more influencer attention in no time.

(Thanks to Christian Vanek for the cool search trick!)