social media how to

Want to discover how to engage more users on Twitter?

Have you considered using psychology techniques?

Using some psychology tips in your tweets can make your Twitter feed more interesting and your followers will be more likely to engage with you.

In this article I’ll share six psychology tips you can use to create tweets that’ll engage your audience.

use psychology to improve twitter engagement

Learn 6 ways use psychology to improve twitter engagement.

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The methods used to construct language and motivate customers often stem back to basic psychology, which is something used to persuade, engage and influence buyers.

For example, using rhetorical questions at the start of Twitter ads or general “sales” tweets might work well for you. The tweets will engage users and make them consider how your product or service could benefit them.

Here’s how you can improve brand recognition, catch the attention of more users and increase the number of clicks, retweets and favorites that your tweets receive.

#1: Take Advantage of the Bandwagon Effect

Humans are innately social beings; we’re born with a powerful psychological need to belong. This dates back to our ancestors who lived at a time when it was best to live in groups to ensure a higher chance of survival. Although society is different now, identification with and a sense of belonging to a group or organization are paramount to our well-being.

Psychologists say that there are three primary groups that people aim to associate with: groups to which they’d like to belong (aspirational), groups that share the same ideas and values (associative) and groups to which they don’t want to belong (dissociative).

The language you use within your tweets can help users identify with one of the three primary groups. As a result, they’re more likely to respond.

yorkhornets tweet

York Hornets used an aspirational tweet to encourage followers to become part of their team.

In the aspirational tweet above, a cheer team recognized that some of their followers might want to try out for their team. It uses that desire to influence them to join their Facebook group.

The tweet below from the Huffington Post uses the values of association to engage users and encourage them to respond to an article. The tweet asks if followers agree with a strong statement. Users will reply, retweet and click through, as they try to decide which side they are on.

huffpostuk tweet

This controversial tweet uses the value of association to encourage followers to respond.

The language used within tweets can also help customers make a dissociative connection to a competitor, and as a result, a better association with your brand. Technology companies often compare their product to a competitor’s spec or an older product, and receive excellent engagement.

samsung tweet

In an attempt to gain customers Samsung compared two products, showing its product as the better choice.

Anyone viewing the above image from Samsung would want to associate themselves with the newer camera and improved image, rather than the old one.

Key Takeaway: Use Twitter to link your products and services to the three primary groups that customers respond to: aspirational, associative and dissociative. This will promote higher engagement, as well as cultivate users who have an affinity for your brand.

#2: Use Image Psychology

Many marketing and advertising studies have been conducted to see what type of images have the highest conversion or click-through rates. In nearly all studies, an image of a person, particularly a close-up of his or her face, increased the success of the ad or the web page.

Apply this research to your Twitter strategy. Tweet images with faces. And be sure to have a nice headshot on your Twitter profile.

37 Signals conducted a test that looked at different variations of the Highrise home page to see which one converted the most visitors to paying customers. They found that a page where they included an image of a person created a 102.5% increase in signups.

landing page comparison

The landing page on the right, which used a person’s image in the design, increased signups by over 100%.

Jakob Nielsen, an expert in user interface design, explains that “a huge percentage of the human brain is dedicated to remembering and recognizing faces. For many, faces work better than names.”

To make your brand more recognizable to your Twitter audience, head up your profile image with the face of the company, such as the CEO or founder. This will make that person more recognizable to the audience, which is an especially important tactic for a new company.

Even for a SaaS company, where there is no obvious “person” to sell, it’s useful to include images of happy customers within individual tweets, particularly those linking to blog posts or case studies. The effectiveness doesn’t really come from who is in the image, it’s more about what the image conveys to the reader.

Key Takeaway: Wherever possible, use an image in your profile picture to help users relate to the brand on a personal level. Also include images of users, customers or staff members within tweets and articles.

#3: Employ Self-Perception Theory

Self-perception theory is how people develop attitudes based on their own behavior. For example, if you go to a few baseball games, you’ll probably decide that you’re a baseball fan. Then, you’ll act in a way that reinforces your identity as a baseball fan. You’ll buy baseball memorabilia and/or engage in conversation with other baseball fans.

On Twitter users will retweet or favorite a tweet that they feel is consistent with their self-perception. For example, people who work in customer service or ecommerce would retweet or favorite the tweet below from KISSmetrics, because it fits in with how they perceive themselves and reinforces their identity on Twitter.

kissmetrics tweet

KISSmetrics used the self-perception theory in this tweet as a way to identify with their audience.

Key Takeaway: Determine how your customers identify themselves and create tweets that are consistent with that vision. For example, provide marketing tips for marketers or development resources and tools for developers. This type of tweet will increase engagement and sharing.

#4: Keep It Simple

If there’s one thing all great advertisers know, it’s to keep messages simple. The wonderful thing about Twitter is that you don’t really have a choice. A message has to be succinct to make sense and still fit into 140 characters.

To increase engagement even more, try the short paragraph trick. Twitter allows you to create line breaks within your tweet, as shown below.

tweet with a line break

Line breaks are an effective way of drawing your reader’s eye to your tweet.

When you use short paragraphs, it moves your reader’s eye down the page. This quickens the pace at which they read, makes your tweet look exciting and encourages a higher number of click-throughs to the article or image.

The short paragraph approach can also be used to create humor and show a more human side of your brand. Take a look at what General Electric did when Twitter first released line breaks.

generalelectric tweet

Humor can be a great way to identify with your audience.

Another simple trick is to repeat the language you use within your tweets to create a narrative that users can follow. Business-card designer Moo identified with and engaged users who have a side business through their hashtag campaign: #bynightiam.

moo tweet

Moo’s #bynightiam campaign is an excellent example of repetition done well.

Key Takeaway: Use short paragraphs to build suspense and gain more click-throughs on your articles. Also, come up with hashtags or certain phrases and repeat them throughout a series of tweets or for a specific time span to increase brand recognition. One only needs to think of hashtags like #throwbackthursday and #flashbackfriday to see how well a campaign like this can work.

#5: Use Reverse Psychology

While big companies often try to tell customers what to do or think, some of the most successful advertisers are those who do the opposite through the form of reverse psychology.

HubSpot is one B2B brand that utilizes this trick when tweeting links to their blog posts such as the one below.

hubspot tweet

Reverse psychology can be a great way to attract readers.

When you tell people not to read something, it’s likely that many more will be enticed to click through, regardless of whether they fit the criteria told to read it or not. Note: Don’t use this tactic too often or else you may be accused of click-baiting (giving the readers too little information in an attempt to get them to click).

Key Takeaway: When used sparingly, reverse psychology can be a great tactic to increase click-throughs and engage users.

#6: Use Initial Caps for Readability

According to a study by Conductor, when given a variety of ad headlines from which to choose, ranging from all caps to all lowercase to sentence case, 64% of users favored sentence case. (The study defines sentence case as where the first letter of each primary word is capitalized. It’s commonly known as initial caps or title case.)

conductor study data

Users prefer ad headlines that are in sentence case (initial caps), as opposed to all caps or all lowercase.

Buffer uses initial caps each time they send a tweet that promotes one of their blog articles, and it seems to work well for them.

buffer tweet

To engage readers, Buffer employs initial caps when they tweet blog articles.

The use of initial caps is also said to increase reading speed, so a user needs less time to take in your tweet. This is backed by a series of studies by James Cattell, in which letter and word examples were given to study participants for a very brief amount of time (less than 10 milliseconds). From this, he found that the participants could accurately recognize the words more than the individual letters, a phenomenon he named the “word superiority effect.”

Key Takeaway: Use initial caps in your tweet, particularly if the tweet is promoting the headline of a blog article. This helps attract more readers and improves the speed at which your audience can digest the headline.


It’s easy to always create the same type of tweets without thinking about why a user may click or retweet them. It’s more effective to take the time to formulate a Twitter marketing strategy and create tweets that speak to your users.

What do you think? With what types of tweets do you get the best response? Have you used any advertising tricks to improve your tweets? What are your best Twitter tips? Comment below and let us know.

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  • Marketing Bees

    Great post Beth! I think you described everything very well but what I like the most is that you included “key takeaway” for every of those six ways

  • Beth Gladstone

    Thank you! It’s great to know that you enjoyed the ‘key takeaway’ format – I’ll be sure to include it more in future posts 🙂

  • One technique I use to emphasize they should click the link I provide is to combine line breaks with special characters such as:

    Download our new _____ today:
    >>> [LINK] <<<

    Using mental triggers such as scarcity will help to click now rather than bookmarking or leaving it up to them to come back later.

  • Craig Brew

    A great post and excellent resource Beth, thanks for sharing.

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  • Craig Hoffmann

    Thanks for sharing these tips Beth, great resource and will be putting these techniques into practice straight away. I have never used line breaks, it’s high time I started :).

  • Beth Gladstone

    That’s a great technique Craig, thanks for sharing it with us!

  • Beth Gladstone

    Thanks Craig, really glad you enjoyed it!

  • Beth Gladstone

    Thanks Craig – really pleased you enjoyed the post and are looking to use the techniques in your own twets. Line breaks are definitely an underutilised tool! Let me know how you get on 🙂

  • Sonia

    I LOVED this article!! I read it and even took notes on my little notebook, I’m gonna really think of my marketing strategy on Twitter now!! Thankyou bso much!!

  • Awesome, brief, and quite didactical review Beth!…I agree with Buffer… Initial Caps have worked a lot for me since the very first day I began to blog my works…

    Quick Question: I oftenly receive notifications on Twitter about users who fav. my tweets..but when I browse their timelines I can’t trace my tweets there…how could that be?

    Keep up the good work!

  • Beth Gladstone

    Thanks for the feedback Sonia, great to hear the post was interesting to you. Good lucky with implementing the tips into your own strategy and make sure you let us know how it goes!

  • Beth Gladstone

    HI Eliseo,

    Thanks for the kind words and feedback – I agree that Initial Caps is a great way to help your tweet stand out and increase engagement.

    In answer to your question – when a user favorites your tweet it doesn’t show up in their timeline. If you select the ‘favorites’ category on that user’s profile you will be able to see all of the tweets they have favorited, but they would need to Retweet it, in order for it to show up on their timeline.

    Hope that helps! Thanks, Beth

  • Great points Beth. Thanks for sharing.

    Perhaps the following could be used as well.

    Small asks – asking your audience to take a small low cost action is a great way to help people move through “action paralysis”, create deeper bonds and a community. For eg: small asks like – Please RT, or asking people for feedback.

    Provide Instant gratification – in other words using words like instant, immediately and fast help your audience envision that their problem is being solved right away. So framing headlines and tweets that employ these words could help increase retweets as people like to look smart and provide helpful resources.

  • Glad to share!!!

  • Beth Gladstone

    Thanks for sharing these great tips with us Vinay – they seem like good ways to improve engagement too and I’ll certainly be trying them out in my tweets!

  • Love tip #2…just goes to show that the ‘human’ factor is able to come across with this type of marketing.

  • Love tip #2…just goes to show that the ‘human’ factor is able to come across with this type of marketing.

  • Great article. I’ve been wondering how Cialdini’s principles of influence (reciprocity, commitment and consistency, social proof, authority,
    liking, and scarcity) could be used effectively on social media. I think number #3 matches “commitment and consistency”. You’ve included lots more tips, which seem easy to apply.

  • Beth Gladstone

    Very true Luke!

  • Yes it did! How easy is to learn and get more involved with social media tools with you by my side!…Keep on shining Beth! ☼ Bright blessings )o(

  • Beth Gladstone

    I think Cialdini’s principles are all very relevant in the social space Stelios, particularly in terms of raising engagement, so long as they aren’t used too often or for every update. Good luck applying the tips, let us know how you get on!

  • Beth Gladstone

    So glad I could help Eliseo 🙂

  • Sonia

    I answer you straight away ’cause then I forget: I implemented the majority of your advices: tone of voice, content valuable to my target audience, retorical questions, simplicity of message etc… what I found is that at the beginning NO ONE will notice you, but after a few days people will start following A LOT MORE. I think it’s because the valuable content was properly hashtagged, of course none of my followers gave a rat about valuable content (because I was using the wrong strategy before) BUT it seems that my target eventually found me via hashtags days later. Great!

  • Great article Beth. Will be sharing later today, we are primarily direct marketing so any great social media tips are great for our customers.

  • Beth Gladstone

    thanks for commenting and sharing – really glad the post was useful for you and your customers!

  • Beth Gladstone

    That’s really great to hear Sonia and you’re right – sometimes the results can take a few days to pick up and show through but if you apply the right practise you will generally find that the effort is worthwhile! Great stuff and well done 🙂

  • sergeitoom

    To Improve Twitter Engagement With New Mindsight .

  • bikestream

    Thanks for the tips and especially for #4. I did not know about line breaks! I will certainly be using them in the future!!!

  • Mary Farley

    This post is great food for thought! I did notice one issue (and I realize that you’re just citing someone else’s research), which is that Sentence Case and Title Case are NOT the same thing. In sentence case writing, the first word is capitalized, as well as proper nouns and select other words, but MOST of the words are lowercase (as you would write a sentence). A headline written in Title Case would have every word capitalized other than articles (“a” or “the” etc.) I do not at all mean to be critical, but I would hate for readers to be confused about what that data actually means. In fact, I’m a confused about it now, myself!