How To Write Viral Twitter Thread Hooks (With 6 Clear Examples)

Dickie Bush

Ultimate Guide Table of Contents

This post is a deep dive into the art of writing Twitter Thread hooks – the initial tweet at the top of your thread.

Like it or not, this is the most important factor in whether your thread sees success or goes nowhere.

And there are 2 main goals of your Twitter thread hook:

  1. Get the reader to stop scrolling
  2. Get the reader to click to read more

That’s it.

Every single word in your lead-in tweet should help with one of these two goals – otherwise, you should cut it.

The good part about writing Twitter thread hooks is they use the exact same formulas we teach for writing headlines AND writing an effective first sentence.

You have a little bit more real estate (280 characters) – but the same principles apply.

So let’s recall the 5 elements of writing an effective headline:

  • Be CLEAR, not Clever
  • Specify the WHO
  • Specify the WHAT
  • Specify the WHY
  • Twist The Knife

And the 6 proven ways to write an engaging first sentence:

  • Open with 1 strong, declarative sentence.
  • Open with a thought-provoking question.
  • Open with a controversial opinion.
  • Open with a moment in time.
  • Open with a vulnerable statement.
  • Open with a weird, unique insight.

To write an effective thread hook, we are going to combine these principles.

Below you’ll find 6 high-quality lead-in tweets.

For each one, I break down a few of the principles it uses to capture attention (and how you can use them in your own thread hooks).

Let’s dive in:

Principles this thread uses & why they worked:

  • Strong declarative sentence + controversial opinion opener. “If you use it right, Twitter is the most powerful platform in the world.” This sentence makes a bold claim that is somewhat controversial. Most readers will disagree with that first sentence, which will cause them to keep reading.
  • Twist the knife. “But Twitter does a horrible job show you its advanced features. ... you probably know nothing about.” This sentence tells the reader: “you’re missing out on some awesome stuff! But, it’s not your fault, and I’m here to help.” The first sentence hooked them and the second sentence got them wanting more of what feels like “insider info.”
  • Clear, not clever. “Here are 10 of them you probably know nothing about.” As clear as it gets – I am making a promise to the reader that what follows are 10 features they don’t know about (scratching the itch and solving the problem I laid out in the 2nd sentence).

This is a classic “insider info secrets” listicle you can use time and time again. Tell the reader you have some insider info (and how the world has conspired against them to keep them from knowing about it). Then, ease their pain by giving them the insider info in a concise, listicle format.

Principles this thread uses and why they work:

  • Moment-in-time opener.When Iron Man came out in 2008.” See how those 7 little words transport you back in time and make you want to bundle up next to the fireplace for story time? Or perhaps you immediately thought back to where you were in Iron Man first came out 14 years ago? That’s the power of the moment-in-time opener.
  • Weird, unique insight opener. *“Robert Downey Jr. was not a marquee star. He was rebuilding his career and paid a below market rate of $500k.” This is part unique insight, part “heroes journey” as it sets the stage for the beginning of the story. Most people think of Robert Downey Jr. as a huge star, so his origin story piques their interest.
  • Creates a curiosity gap. “The deal terms set him up for one of the great acting comebacks ever and he’s earned $450m+ as Tony Stark.” Trung teases the beginning of the story in the 2nd sentence, then tells you the end of the story in the 3rd sentence – which makes the reader feel like they have to keep reading to figure out how it happened.
  • Scroll-stopping image. This one is tactical, but adding in a big image like this can help stop the scroll, as long as its relevant to what your thread is about.

This is a perfectly-executed story framework from Trung. Start with a moment in time, tell the beginning & end of the story, and pique the reader’s curiosity enough to get them to read more to find out how it all went down.

Principles this thread uses and why they work:

  1. Specify the WHO. “If you’re a man in your 20s.” Very simply, this thread names the exact audience it’s targeting. If you’re a woman in your 30s are you going to read this? Nope. Man in their 50s? Probably not. Dude in your 20s? Absolutely yes. And that specificity is why it has over 50,000 likes!
  2. Curiosity gap. “Read this:” Sometimes, less is more. In this case, directly naming the audience and simply saying “read this” is all you need to get a reader to click through and keep reading. Then, as long as you deliver valuable insights to them, they’re going to keep reading.

This is a recently-popularized Twitter hook framework that works well because of how simple it is: name the exact audience, tell them to read it, and deliver something they will find valuable.

Principles this thread uses and why they work:

  • Strong declarative sentence. “The KING of Youtube: Mr. Beast.” YouTube is a massive platform with tons of big time creators – so this sentence plants my flag in the ground.
  • Moment in time + big numbers.Over the last 12 months, he’s gained over 50,000,000 subscribers.” 2 things going on here: I use the moment in time by specifying the duration (over the last 12 months), then grab the readers attention with a huge number (50,000,000).
  • Establish (somewhat absurd) credibility.So I binge watched 100 hours of his videos to study how he’s done it so quickly.” Is this stretching the truth a bit? Maybe. But it’s telling the reader: what I’m about to share next comes from a place of credibility – I’ve done my homework.
  • Specify the WHO, WHAT, WHY: Here’s his 3-part framework for rapid growth (that you can use on any platform). It’s worth staring at this one for a second, because I’m doing all 3 things that make up a good headline in one sentence. I’m specifying the what (“his 3-part framework”), the why (for rapid growth), AND the who (that you can use on any platform, i.e. people who are building their audiences on social media).
  • Scroll-stopping image. Again, this one is tactical but having a big picture of Mr. Beast with his eyes popping helped stopped the scroll and got tons of scrollers to stop dead in their tracks.

There’s a lot going on in this thread, which is why it worked! But the important thing to recognize is I used every single character deliberately with this thread hook. Every word served a purpose in getting my reader to 1) stop scrolling and 2) click to read through.

Principles this thread uses and why they work:

  • Moment in time opener. “Over the past 10 years...” 5 simple words is all it takes to tell the reader “I’m about to take you on a journey.”
  • Establishes credibility. “I have read over 500 business books.” With this sentence, Cole immediately tells the reader: “what I’m about to share with you are hard-earned insights.”
  • Controversial opinion. “99% (of these business books) were 1 idea stretched across 300 pages.” This is what I call a “silent controversial opinion.” It’s something  everyone thinks but never says, so when Cole comes right out in says it, there’s a feeling of “ah yes, finally someone said it.”
  • Twist the knife. “Save yourself the time.” Implied in these 4 words is “if you don’t read this thread, and instead go on to read a bunch of useless books, you’re going to waste your time, and no one wants that!”
  • Clear, not clever. “Read these 10 ↓” Once again, as clear as it gets. Tell the reader exactly what you’re going to give them, then point them downwards to read more.

Again, this thread crushed it because it made a big promise, then delivered on it. But unless you look closely, you won’t recognize how deliberately he used every word in his lead-in tweet, which helped as well.

Principles this thread uses and why they work:

  • Controversial opinion opener. “College completely failed in teaching me how to write.” Boom! Right out of the gates, I come out and take a shot at colleges everywhere. Just like Cole’s controversial opinion, this too is a “silent controversial opinion” because almost everyone thinks it, but they never say it.
  • Establishes credibility. “So I spent over 500 hours studying legendary authors and copywriters. Then, I distilled what I learned into 6 simple frameworks.” This sentence clearly tells the reader: what I’m about to say comes from a place of earned credibility. I’ve done the hard work and packaged it up nicely for you.
  • Twist the knife. “But unlike college, these won't cost you $120,000.” Ouch! This sentence agitates the problem even further – not only did college fail to teach you, but you PAID them $120k and they still didn’t help.
  • Clear, not clever. “Here they are for free.” To wrap up the hook, I solve the reader’s problem by saying: here’s what I learned and all you have to do is keep reading, I got you.

This is one of my most successful threads ever, and I attribute 100% of it to the 4th sentence. Take note of how it reads if I remove the “but unlike college, these won’t cost you $120k.” It loses its “sting” factor. When I positioned my free insights next to a $120k degree, suddenly they became 10x more valuable to the reader. That’s the power of twisting the knife.

The big takeaway from these examples is understanding the importance of every single word in your thread hook – and how to use them deliberately.

So in crafting your lead-in tweet, remember, there are 2 main goals:

  1. Get the reader to stop scrolling
  2. Get the reader to click to read more

And you should utilize the 5 elements of writing an effective headline:

  • Be CLEAR, not Clever
  • Specify the WHO
  • Specify the WHAT
  • Specify the WHY
  • Twist The Knife

And the 6 proven ways to write an engaging first sentence:

  • Open with 1 strong, declarative sentence.
  • Open with a thought-provoking question.
  • Open with a controversial opinion.
  • Open with a moment in time.
  • Open with a vulnerable statement.
  • Open with a weird, unique insight.

Hope this was helpful!

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