Talk about a paradox. Writing is hard. Writing less is even harder. A limit of 140 characters makes telling it like it is quite a challenge.
(For example, the first two sentences of this post used 140 characters and spaces.)
Twitter forces us to say what we want to say in as few as words as possible. But when you want to let people know who you are, what you have to offer, and have a little fun while you’re at it, those 140 characters can be seriously stifling.
On the other hand, maybe cutting out all those unnecessary words can be liberating! To all those struggling with the concept of an extreme language makeover – here are some helpful hints:
The Short List of Tips on Writing Short for Twitter:
Weigh your Words. The right word can evoke the exact meaning in as few characters as possible. Your friendly, neighborhood thesaurus is the best place to go for options. Let’s say you have a choice between “monotonous” and “dull” – get the point?
Embrace the Verb. Use verbs to get your message across. For example, the word “run.” Look at all the great alternatives you have at your fingertips: sprint, jog, dart, dash, hurry and so on. The subtle differences let you add depth to the meaning of your message.
Check your adverbs and adjectives at the door. Why waste precious real estate on these descriptive words when your content will be just as impactful without them. Besides, if you read that something is wonderful, are you convinced anyway?
Keep it Simple, Stupid. The KISS principle is a lesson most everyone has learned. Always keep your tweet limited to a single thought or idea. Keep the message pure; don’t dilute it with a competing concept.
Writing is rewriting. In other words, write what you want to say, then whittle it down while keeping an eye on your character count. With practice, you’ll get better at this technique and soon be able to do it in your head.
Come to terms with the language. Twitter has its own set of rules when it comes to grammar.
You can leave out words such as “that” and “which.” Readers will understand what you’re trying to say.
There’s no I in Tweet. Delete all those pesky personal pronouns. Simply say, “Going to Food Truck Festival.” The “I am” is implied – you don’t need to write it.
Tweeting is not talking. Say what’s on your mind, but phrases commonly used in public speaking should be deleted. You don’t need to say “As a matter of fact,” or “If you ask me,” and such.
Take advantage of link-letters. Sometimes you just can’t get it all out in fewer than 140 characters. That’s when you write an intro, then link to the rest. Employ handy link-shorteners like Tinyurl, Hootsuite, Bit.ly, etc. to reduce the c-count.
Say it with Symbols. Most keyboards allow you to create symbols with special “alt” characters. Use TwitterKeys to put symbols at your fingertips. You gotta ♥ it!
Small Words, Bigger Meanings. Use small words. This is not the place to impress everyone with your vocabulary. Instead of “purchase” use “buy.” Replace “understand” with “get.” You’ll save time, characters, and your writing will be more powerful.
Don’t forget to have FUN! Isn’t that what Twitter is all about? Have fun with your word choices. Exercise your creativity and don’t forget to weave in your own personality.
May all your Tweets be short and sweet!
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