Less Characters, More Tweets – A Few Tweeting Tips

It is hard to believe that a service that limits your speech to 140 characters would emerge as an important media platform, but it has.  News travels more quickly, is more granular in nature, can very specific to highly targeted audiences and drives traffic to full stories and sites.  It allows reporters to file micro-stories all day long.  The breadth of what gets communicated drives depth, even in such a short character span.

Last month I posted on tracking the top healthcare beat reporters as a means of keeping up with what is going on in the healthcare space.  You only have to attend a medical meeting to understand how quickly news is being shared out of those venues by attendees and media.  Even FDA has 14 twitter feeds and they are compiled here in a list if you would like to view all FDA tweets at once.

There is no right way and wrong way to post tweets.  But it is important to remember that one maximizes one’s impact on Twitter by providing content that is engaging and newsworthy and gets repeated.  In other words, talking to your followers is one thing – and perhaps an important thing, but talking to your followers’ followers is much more effective from a communications point of view.  It is reaching those networks to which you do not have direct access yourself.  It is the echo chamber that is Twitter.

In other words, the whole point is to have your tweet re-tweeted.  Retweeting is pretty easy – you click on the icon and poof, you send.  But when you do that, it adds characters to the tweet.  If you go over the character limit, the retweet will be truncated.  Not good.

Therefore, it is important to consider, when composing a tweet, the need to keep it a short and sweet tweet in order to maximize the possibility that it gets retweeted.  If a reader goes to retweet and finds that the retweet is now too long, it will require the user to modify the tweet.  At that point you are likely to experience a drop-off in retweeting.

So in the end, don’t make re-tweeting a chore.  If you force your reading public to modify the tweet, then you are going to experience a drop-off in re-tweeting.  Drop unnecessary words like “a” and “An” and “the” – abbreviate when possible – and use short cuts like & and $ when you can.  Putting your readership against the wall with the 140 characters is not doing them or you a favor.

Checklist for finishing a tweet – look it over and ask yourself

  • What words can be dropped entirely?
  • What terms can be abbrevicated?
  • What can be replaced by a symbol such as substituting “&” for “and”
  • Can I use other shortcuts – substituting risk/benefit for the “risks and benefits”

Shaving characters from your tweet will increase the likelihood of getting re-tweeted and minimize the chances of someone mangling the meaning of your tweet by modifying it.

Happy Tweeting People.

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