Life in 140 Characters
Writing for the Internet takes real skill, and this couldn’t be more true than with the microblogging platform Twitter. It’s a cut throat platform which limits every post to 140 characters, not a single letter more AND this includes punctuation. If you go over, your message will be cut short, possibly leaving you with incomplete sentences, words or even links.
Writing a 140 character message that contains all of the necessary information is a real skill. Each tweet must be clear, concise and captivating, otherwise it’s just more noise that will echo through the coliseum of the Internet. Many tweets are overlooked or completely dismissed because they fail in this regard, especially when there are millions of users writing tweets about how they, “totally had a greet time OMG!! #twitterpollution” (that typo is intentional for the sake of authenticity).
If you’re lucky enough to have your Tweet read by someone, you now have approximately 10 seconds of their attention, where they can take action in up to four ways:
- Actually read the tweet
- Follow or unfollow your feed
- Care enough to click the link, photo or video (if applicable)
- Retweet, or reply to your message
This is a lot for anybody to decide in less than a dozen seconds. This means that we as the content producers have to make it worth the time of the content consumer.
Think of Tweets as Headlines
Twitter has also breathed new life into a craft that many people have forgotten, writing old fashioned Newspaper slugs. If you take the time to follow and really read the tweets of successful and popular Tweeple (beyond Lady Gaga and Ashton Kutcher), you can’t help but notice that a lot of the Tweets which grab your attention are just like attention grabbing news headlines. If the Tweet is captivating enough, the reader might just take action (refer to our #Winning section above).
If you’re looking for help writing great headlines, particularly useful for sharing blog posts, check out this helpful post, The Art of Writing Great Twitter Headlines, on copyblogger.com
Secrets of Great Tweets
• Less is more. Fewer characters means your tweet can be more easily shared by others – as a general rule, aim to write in fewer than 115 characters. (Find out how to calculate your own re-tweet limit here).
• Use proper grammar whenever possible. This means, don’t sacrifice readability for a slew of hashtags and @mentions. Nobody wants to sift through that.
• Choose the right hashtags. Decide which will be the most effective for sharing your message. Broad hashtags like #marketing will cast a wide net for your message, but specific hashtags like #WebMarketing might reach a more targeted market.
• A picture is worth 1000 words. Videos can say even more. Write a short headline to pique curiosity, and let the pictures tell the story.
Will Tweeting Prevail?
People have shorter attention spans now more than ever. There are digital billboards, in-boxes filled with endless emails, smartphones, superphones, radio ads, TV ads, Google ads, and Facebook ads; they all want us to look at them, and each one of them is screaming for our attention.
There will those who argue that compressing our world into 140 characters will decay the linguistic ability of generations to follow. We, however; choose to view this short-form communication style as a challenge to eliminate verbosity and mundane details.
Note: We are aware of the irony of writing a 600 word blog about how to write a 140 character post. 😉