How To: Twitter Thread Edition

A Twitter thread is a series of tweets published by one individual, usually providing extra context or extending a point by connecting multiple tweets together. This is an interesting feature because it seems antithetical to Twitter’s “microblogging” elements. Ultimately, it pushes the platform to be more inclusive of longform tweeting.

Some of my favorite contemporary Twitter threads are stories. Most of these stories are funny, some are powerful, and others are just a list of favorite media from other platforms (ex: “Here are my Top 30 favorite vines!”).

In my genre exploration, I have found that most viral Twitter threads are anecdotal. One woman details the time she accidentally went on a date with a 97-year-old man (https://thoughtcatalog.com/callie-byrnes/2017/05/this-woman-accidentally-went-on-a-date-with-a-97-year-old-man-and-shared-the-whole-hilarious-story-on-twitter/). Another one, written by Kumail Nanjiani, is about a sweet moment he shared with the director of Star Wars: The Last Jedi Rian Johnson (https://mashable.com/2017/12/13/kumail-nanjiani-rian-johnson-twitter-thread/#XMp324nJ3iqt).

 

Anecdotal Twitter threads, specifically funny or sentimental ones, tend to be written for a more general audience than the other threads I researched. They are chock full of the author’s voice, slang, and reaction images and gifs.

Another common category of Twitter threads is the information thread. This thread tends to be more text heavy and formal than the anecdotal thread, but it doesn’t have to necessarily be so. For example, this thread, by Max Krieger, is a deep-dive into the “design hellscape” that is the popular American restaurant chain The Cheesecake Factory.

 

In recent times, as Twitter has become a newsource and political discussion board, many informational tweets are dedicated to “de-mystifying” complicated news items to more digestible and comprehensive.

Daniel Dale, the Washington correspondent for the Toronto Star, has a couple of tweets that are focused on “Donald Trump getting hilariously lost in his own lies”.

Dale also has a couple of tweets breaking down one of the most insurmountable laws passed in Trump’s reign: The Tax and Jobs Act of 2017. It is interesting to see that, as Donald Trump has used Twitter as a platform to be heard, there has been a marked increase in political scientists and reporters that have come up to meet him.

 

So, back to threads. How exactly do you go about writing one of your own?

  1. Determine who you want to write it for. A Twitter thread, like any other piece, requires an audience. Are you writing it for the high-schoolers who love memes? Are you writing for health insurance policy makers who need to be informed on a certain issue?
  2. Keep it short. The whole point of a Twitter thread is that you have multiple tweets to make your point, so don’t stuff each tweet until the 250 word limit. Give your reader some space to breathe.
  3. Integrate your voice! It is not your job to be an academic robot, whose only job is to connect different sources to support an argument. Tweets that have personality tend to be more interesting.
  4. Use other media. Twitter gives you the opportunity to use images, videos, gifs, and all that fun stuff – take advantage! Tweets that use media have notably higher engagement.
  5. Thread your tweets. This one seems obvious, but it is really important that your tweets have flow. If you’re telling a story or making an informative thread, make sure there is logic to the order of your tweets.

One thought to “How To: Twitter Thread Edition”

  1. I think it’s increasingly important to think about social media posts as genres, and to consider how we contribute to these genres. It can be easy to dismiss tweets as trivial, but so many people engage with and draw information from tweets that the author needs to think hard about their tweets’ impact on others. I like how you break down the twitter thread genre into two specific subcategories and define the characteristics of each.

    I think your comment on not being an “academic robot” is interesting — as you develop your first experiment, I imagine you’ll have to balance incorporating your voice with sharing factual, unbiased information. Especially on a site like twitter, it’s easy to conflate fact and opinion.

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