There’s a good reason why Twitter has become a social media staple: it delivers the latest information, musings, news, and cute animal photos in a never-ending avalanche of easily-digestible bites of 140 characters or less. Speaking of those 140 keystrokes, it’s not always easy to squish everything that you want to express within that restrictive character limit. When I’m pressed for space when writing something for Twitter, I think like an octopus. No, really! Even a 600lb giant Pacific octopus can easily squeeze its boneless body through an opening no larger than a quarter! If a massive mollusk can be that flexible, you can pare down your message for Twitter.
Here’s ten tips to help anyone make like an octopus, and successfully compact your message into Twitter’s character limit:
It’s true that adding a well-placed hashtag can help you to cast a wider net with your tweets, but don’t compromise your message at the expense of hashtags. Never feel obligated to trim too much of your tweet to include additional hashtags, and from my experience, a single hashtag does the job.
It’s good to plan out what you want to tweet ahead of time, and to say exactly what you want to, but keep in mind that spelling and grammar still matter on Twitter. If your word choices are too large, break out the thesaurus for shorter alternative synonyms. Contractions are excellent space savers, but avoid abbreviations like the plague. Keep in mind: “Nthing makes Twtr mssgs look uglier than slf-made abbrevs!”
While spelling and grammar are vital for creating a top-tier tweet, punctuation doesn’t matter nearly as much. As long as you are 100% crystal clear that your audience understands what you’re tweeting about, it’s perfectly fine to drop a period or clip some commas if you’re extremely pressed for space.
Never write out numbers on Twitter. One-hundred and twenty three takes up many more characters than 123! While we’re on the subject of Twitter shorthand, & > “and.” ‘Nuff said.
Have you ever wanted to include some eye-catching images or a video to drive your point home, but were concerned that it would count against Twitter’s character limit? Well, I have good news for you! GIFs, images, and videos absolutely do not detract from your character count these days. This is a fantastic way to go into detail with your message by adding visuals that have the potential to contain far more information than 140 characters could ever allow. If there’s one thing that social media engineers have learned over the years, it’s that including an interesting video or GIF is a stellar technique to encourage Twitter users to stop scrolling for just long enough so they may read its accompanying tweet.
If you want people to become interested in your message, you have to be creative with how you phrase tweets. For instance, “You’ll never guess where aquarium keepers found this octopus!” will likely get more readers to click on the tweet’s accompanying link for more information than “Octopus escapes exhibit, found safe & sound 2 feet outside of tank.” Keep in mind that writing a catchy headline is a bit of a balancing act between spoiling everything that readers need to know in the tweet, and teasing the curiosity of your followers just enough that they can’t keep scrolling before clicking on your link to learn all about it.
Always proofread your tweets. Not only will double checking your post prevent you from sending out a less-than-stellar tweet, but you might stumble upon a technique to improve upon the original. Try reading your draft out loud. If it doesn’t sound right, it probably isn’t!
So you absolutely can’t fit everything that you need to say into a single tweet? Are you sure? Well, you can write two tweets to get everything that you need to share out there, but make absolutely sure that both tweets are ready to go immediately one after the other. Even a minute between posting parts one and two can separate your message into a awkward Twitter sandwich on your follower’s feeds.
Another great way to say more than what 140 characters will allow is to link to a blog post or article that you’ve written so you can elaborate as much as you want.
At Sociality Squared, we prefer to shorten our outgoing links with bit.ly. This tool not only compacts lengthy links into bite sized URLs for easier reading, it provides detailed stats such as how many clicks your links have received, which sites are referring your link, and where on Earth your clickers are clicking from.
What did we learn today? Take time to carefully plan important tweets, memorize the little ways to conserve characters, and put your eight arms to good use by editing your writing to get the most out of every tweet that you post!