If you’re familiar with Twitter, you’ll be well aware that all you have to express yourself are 140 characters, and that’s including spaces! To give you an idea of how tricky it can be to tell a compelling story with such a limited toolkit, the previous sentence is exactly 140 characters long.
And if you think 140 characters are restrictive, what about the fact that you might want to include a link, say to your blog or a web page. Even with URL shortening (more on that later), that will reduce your character count by 15. Also, if you want people to Retweet you, it’s always best to leave your Tweet a good few characters short, so that people have space to add their own message. For instance, if they want to say ‘Great article RT’ (short for Retweet) you’ve lost a further 17 characters, not to mention the fact that, if when they Retweet, they choose the ‘Quote Tweet’ option, your Twitter handle will be added. Ours, for example is @remedycreative, so that’s another 16 characters lost – remember, characters includes spaces.
Already, we’re potentially down to a measly 92 characters to play with, hardly enough to string two intelligent sentences together. So how do you get your point across on Twitter?
140 characters? How about getting your message across in 92!
We’ve been tweeting on behalf of some of our clients and ourselves for about 3 years now and there most definitely is an art to it. Once you are in the swing of Twitter, you soon realise that as challenging as the character restriction is, the real test is not in writing something that’s snappy enough, it’s in writing something that is a) worth reading and/or b) will compel other Twitter users to do something (click on a link, retweet, send you a message, follow you…).
So, where to start? First, some golden rules:
1) Use Twitter to air your (or your business’) personality – have fun with it.
2) Don’t bore people, they really don’t want to know what sandwich you’re having every lunch time.
3) If you wouldn’t say it in public, don’t say it on Twitter.
4) Share ideas and content of real value to your followers.
5) Twitter is a two-way street, so follow back, re-tweet, recommend and comment.
Once you’ve got your head around Twitter basics, make sure you have a simple strategy in place before going public:
1) Who are you targeting?
2) What do you hope to achieve?
3) What kind of things do you want to tweet about?
4) How much time are you going to invest?
5) What’s your tone of voice going to be?
So, let’s play with 92 characters. The great thing with Twitter is that it tells you exactly how many characters you have used, so simply start by tapping in your message and if it comes in under your character count, Tweet away (oh, one more golden rule – always, always read your tweet back before hitting the Tweet button).
If your tweet is a bit lengthy, it’s time to cull some words. Here’s an example:
Good morning all. Did you know that Remedy does advertising and websites as well as graphic design for our fantastic clients all over the South East? Check out some examples of our work here: http://www.remedycreative.com
That’s 221 characters – ouch!
There are a few choices here, we can shorten lists, get rid of some niceties, make phrases a bit snappier, use some txt speak, use URL shortening (we generally use goo.gl or bitly.com) and with a bit of luck, we will lose little of real value. If we analyse the tweet as it stands, there is a statement about what we do, who we do it for and overall, an upbeat tone. If we can keep these elements, but lose about 60% of the content, we’re on to a winner.
Morning. Did u know, we do fab ads, web & graphics for clients all over the SE? goo.gl/3ikFM
Bingo – 92 characters! And in this humble writers’ opinion, it has lost precious little in the edit.
So dive in, write your tweets long hand, then be ruthless; your writing should be all the better for it.