The Long-Winded Writer’s Guide to Twitter

Becca Euliss isn’t just Don’t Panic’s Client Happiness Manager. Sometimes she’s also our Employee Sanity Manager. Such was the case a few days ago when, finding myself in a fed-up panic, I sent her the following instant message:

Jaime Hates TwitterYou see, around here, we’re big fans of telling a good story. Experts agree that storytelling is essential to great marketing that brings consumers on board with your organization’s vision. But every platform has its storytelling strengths. Becca’s response forced me to reconsider how I think about character limits.

Hug or a Hand Squeeze

It’s true. I’m a hugger. I might also be just a touch long-winded. But what Becca said got me thinking—what do you do when your audience’s attention span only leaves room for a very short story?

Some situations call for just a quick squeeze of the hand, and it’s important as marketers that we make our message match the circumstances.

And so, on a mission to provide better content for our clients, I decided to do some research into best tweeting practices. If you struggle with character limits, too, here are a few tips I’ve discovered to make the most of your next tweet:

1) Think of your tweet as the headline, not the whole story.

Especially if you’re linking to a blog or article that expands on your thought, it’s not necessary or even recommended to cram the whole story into just one tweet. After all, why should readers click through to your site if they’ve already heard the takeaway? Keep your message simple with a quick, punchy headline, and trust that your audience will click if they want to know more.

2) Contractions and Abbreviations are O.K.

This one is particularly tough for me. I’m a stickler for excellent grammar, and abbreviations like w/ or & make me feel like a texting teenager. But this shorthand is commonplace and expected in Twitter feeds. Within reason, it’s perfectly acceptable to use commonly recognized abbreviations to reach character limits.

3) Avoid unnecessary articles and pronouns.

Along the same lines, it’s alright to ignore pronouns like “that” and “which” or additional articles if your meaning is still clear. At first this style will feel contrary to everything you’ve ever been taught about good writing, but it gets easier. And don’t worry, your 4th grade grammar teacher probably isn’t still checking your work. (Hi, Mrs. Graham!)

4) Let great pictures do the talking.

If a picture is really worth a thousand words, then one Twitpic is worth about 200 tweets! And since most image uploaders only cost around 23 characters, that’s valuable real estate.

Focus on filling your Twitter feed with great images that tell your brand’s story, and include only a headline or caption with those images.

Personally, I’ll always be a hugger, and I still prefer blogging and other social media platforms over the unforgiving 140 character limit. But there’s no doubt that Twitter has a powerful place in social media marketing, so it’s time we all learn to love the quick squeeze.

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