Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Making The Most Of 140 Characters

In the world of Twitter, less is more. 140 characters is all you have to get your point across, so make sure that you use each character as well as you possibly can. Practice makes perfect, so don’t be too worried if you can’t quite get the hang of the 140 character limit to start off with: keep practicing and pretty soon every single one of your tweets will be concise, clear and characterful. Don’t rush, but don’t take too long: Twitter is all about the here and now, with tweets working best if they are relevant to what is happening in the real world and in the Twitter world at the time. If you are still having difficulty with Twitter limits, here are some tips and hints to help you perfect your within-140-character tweets:

1. Abbreviations and Editing Down:

There are numerous ways you can cut down tweets whilst still ensuring that they are easy to read and understand. Here are the most obvious ways you can edit tweets to fit the 140 character limit:

  1. Use contractions – ‘can’t’ instead of ‘cannot’ 
  2. Use abbreviations – ‘biz’ instead of ‘business’ 
  3. Use numbers instead of words – ‘2’ instead of ‘two’ 
  4. Use recognised acronyms – ‘TGIF’ instead of ‘Thank God It’s Friday’ 
  5. Use symbols instead of words – ‘+’ instead of ‘and’. There is an entire set of symbol shortcuts if you want, but they are not necessarily ideal for business related tweets. Find them here
  6. Exchange long words with shorter synonyms – ‘gr8’ (using numbers again to cut down characters) instead of ‘amazing’ 
  7. Drop vowells – ‘ballrm’ instead of ‘ballroom’, or even ‘bllrm’ 
  8. Only use punctuation if you need to. No periods at the end! 
  9. Make sure you haven’t double-spaced anywhere 
  10. Get rid of needless words like ‘that’ in front of nouns – ‘the ice cream I 8’ instead of ‘the ice cream that I ate’ 
  11. Drop personal pronouns at the start of tweets about you, and 
  12. Cut out superfluous adverbs and adjectives. So ‘ I met a really beautiful girl this morning’ becomes ‘met a real beauty this morning’. 
Often, the shorter and more concise your tweets are, the more impact they have. Tabloid newspapers have perfected the art of the snappy headline, getting a lot across with only a little. By using as small a number of words as possible, but still ensuring that your tweet gets the right message across, you will ensure that people will give up that little bit of extra time to read them.

2. Retweets, Multi-tweets and Mentions:

Again, there is a lot that can be edited out of retweets and mentions. Make sure that you only credit the first tweeter, don’t multi-retweet if people have been retweeting retweets.

You can often cut down retweets as well, following the rules above in the ‘Abbreviations and Editing Down’ section. As long as you credit the original source and get the right message across, you should be alright. That said, if you see something you might like to retweet, but think that you can say it better shorter, then write an original tweet. Retweets are great for connecting with other Twitter users, but if you don’t need to connect with them then just say it yourself.

Editing down retweets can give you more wiggle room to add your own thoughts and comments. Make sure that your comments are as short as they possibly can be. It’s also a good idea to leave room in your own tweets so that people retweeting have the room to add a little themselves. 140 characters is a limit, not a target, its actually better to aim for around 100 if you don’t need the extra characters.

If you really do need more than 140 characters, and a picture or vine won’t do the job just as well, find an appropriate point at which to break your tweet in two, then tweet them one after the other quickly. If you can, tweet the last part first, so that they appear correctly in the chronological feed.

3. Links, Shares and conversations:

Most sites contain widgets, allowing you to share their articles on various social media platforms. Often, the tweets these widgets produce can be cut down significantly. If you are posting a link yourself or, for that matter, posting a link using a share button, you can cut them down using URL shortening sites like bitly.

Think about exactly where in your tweet you want the link to appear, the three options being, rather obviously, the beginning, the middle and the end. There is some evidence suggesting that links in the middle of tweets are more likely to get clicked, but really the aesthetics of your tweets are up to you.

Just like when you’re retweeting, leave space to add your own comments and thoughts to tweets containing links. Twitter cards will show the start of articles and videos, so people can see your comments alongside what you’re tweeting a link to. Make sure you only put one link in a tweet, otherwise your audience won’t know what to click on. If you’re commenting on a link in a tweet, think about whether you want your comments before or after the link – what do you want people to see first?

Consider carefully what you are linking to as well. Don’t waste a tweet on something that isn’t very interesting, isn’t relevant to your business or isn’t similar to the things you normally tweet about. Surmise what the link is about in your tweet, but don’t waste characters repeating what people are going to read on the page you linked the tweet to anyway.

By commenting on a link, you can start conversations on Twitter, helping you to build relationships with potential connections and customers.

4. Hashtags and Keywords:

Use keywords, trending hashtags and phrases in tweets that are relevant to your business. Optimise your tweets so that they appear higher in relevant searches. Hashtag words within your tweets that can be hashtagged. For example, if you are talking about social media in a tweet, use the hashtag ‘#socialmedia’, which is almost always trending.

Don’t overuse hashtags, however, as it can detract from what you are trying to say. At the very most use 3 hashtags, but this is in extreme circumstances: normally, It’s better to use 1 or 2 hashtags.

Look through the top trending hashtag lists for inspiration, but make sure that what you contribute to the conversation is relevant and interesting. Start your own hashtags if something interesting or momentous happens in the news. For example, if you run a travel agents and your area experiences the coldest day on record, invite Twitter users to use the hashtag #iwishiwashere in tweets about ideal holiday destinations, rewarding the best tweet with a free holiday.

5. Knowing Your Audience:

It is important to follow all the basic rules when tweeting, optimising your Twitter profile to get the most out of it for your business. Creating and maintaining the right personality in your tweets and knowing the audience you want to attract is vital to the success of your business on Twitter.

Space your tweets out so that you don’t clutter up your followers’ streams and make sure your tweets stay on topic, portraying your company in the best way possible way, while staying current and up-to-date. Don’t just tweet randomly, look for and enter conversations that are relevant to your industry.

A lot of websites will schedule the same tweet to be sent out a number of times each day, announcing updates or new articles. If you have thousands of followers worldwide this is a good idea, as not everyone will see the tweet if you post it just once. If you have the time, you could even tailor each repeated tweet to cater for the audience most likely to see it. However, most companies only tweet once, either as soon as possible to stay relevant, or scheduling to target the right audience.

Think about what you are tweeting, will it work best in Twitter? If you have the same people following you on Twitter and Facebook, then work out which site is best for the content you want to post. It isn’t necessarily a bad idea to post something across a number of platforms, but if you don’t need to then don’t. Infographics, for example, are best on Pinterest and maybe Facebook, but you can post links to them on Twitter.

How do you make the most of 140 characters?


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