Wednesday 17th February 20.00 – 21.00 I’ll be hosting #LTHEchat on digital inclusion and accessibility. With tweeting on my mind, this blog post feels appropriate 🙂
As rumours of changes in tweet length continue, the art of the ‘neat tweet’ may be under threat. This would be a shame. Good tweets are like poetry. Crafted to a sharp point. Lexical limits should be welcomed. There are enough blurred boundaries as it is. 140 characters is a useful restriction when some digital voices go on….and on….and on……. If Twitter limits change I hope another platform is waiting, one which enables the ability to say something worthwhile quickly and with style. As well as a guide to succinctness, this post is also a plea to leave our tweets alone.
Ten Tips for saying more with less in twitter-speak.
- Don’t use a long word if a lesser one will do. A Thesaurus will list synonyms http://www.thesaurus.com/ Pick the shortest one possible.
- Make use of symbols. Take out linking words and use ampersands (&) or the plus (+) sign. Punctuation such as exclamation or question marks, can say more for less while nose-less emoticons : ) or : ( add meaning for just two additional characters.
- Ditch pronouns like That and The. They’re over-used anyway. Trimming them from tweets may improve writing overall. Take out personal pronouns too. It’s usually safe to drop the I and you might get away with dropping They, He, She etc. Try it and see.
- Avoid full URLs. Shorter ones save space and look neater. Tiny URL http://tinyurl.com/ has a quick button you can add to your browser. BitLy https://bitly.com/ claims to create the shortest links and supports the additional of a plus sign to the end of the shortened URL; this creates a preview of the destination page so users can check it’s safe.
- Forget the rule of using numbers 1-10 and words thereafter. Where every character counts, numbers rule. Unless the meaning is critical, it might be safe to drop the commas in larger numbers too.
- Contractions are in! As a rule, contractions are frowned upon in academic writing but it would be a waste of character space not to use them in tweets. Instead of ‘’it is’, ‘you have’, ‘they will’ etc. you can brush the dust off your apostrophes and go for ‘it’s’, ‘you’ve’ and ‘they’ll’ instead.
- Take advantage of the growing number of acceptable tweet abbreviations e.g. RT (retweet), DM (direct message), BTW (by the way), TBH (to be honest) and IMO (in my opinion). Know the difference between abbreviations for professional communication e.g. x (extra), b/c (because) and text-talk e.g. U, UR, M8, GR8, etc
- Images say more than words. They can be useful additions to text tweets but they take up characters. Upload the image to the tweet editor box before writing the tweet.
- Wherever, possible substitute initial letters for names, in particular if it’s someone well known within the context of the tweet.
- Craft your tweet in Word (or other word processing software). Not only can you can apply the spelling and grammar check, it preserves work in progress. There’s nothing worse than crafting the perfect tweet when the internet connection blips and you’ve lost it all. The same applies for any direct work in an online text editor.