Of all the social media tools available to influence social change, Twitter arguably stands at the top of the heap. Arab Spring anyone? Twitter is the grassroots champion for connecting followers and spreading the word. But there is an art to writing for Twitter. You think you have 140 characters to tweet with–already a hard task–but you actually only have 97. If you share a link, it counts as 22 characters, no matter if it’s shorter or longer. Sharing a photo is basically sharing a link, meaning it will take up 22 characters of its own.
Here’s the part you may not be doing: leave 21 characters blank. This is the maximum amount of space it takes to manually retweet your original post. A one-click Twitter retweet won’t add characters, but if someone “quotes” your tweet, they’ll need these characters to add their comments when they share your tweet, e.g. “Perfect timing! RT @dailywordmag: [original post here]”
Some other tips to remember:
• With only 97 characters, approach your message like a journalist approaches a headline: relay the one thing about your article that will entice someone to click through and potentially read it. Try not to abbreviate words other than numbers, days of the week or months, and avoid “text speak” (OMG and C U L8r) unless it fits your brand voice.
• Shorten every link (even though Twitter is going to automatically re-shorten it using their own t.co shortener) so you can track the number of people who click through. (Need a URL shortener? Try http://emfl.us —It’s free!)
• Include a relevant hashtag if one applies. If you’re tweeting about meditation, using #meditation may help you reach people who might not otherwise see your tweet. Hashtags are a way for people to find content they might be interested in by topic instead of by who they currently follow. You can use more than one hashtag, but more than three is probably too many.
• Put brackets around deliverables like [BLOG] or [VIDEO] to entice a click. Photos and videos tend to get more clicks than articles.
• If you start your tweet with the @ sign, it will only show up in newsfeeds for those people that follow both YOU and the person you’re talking to. Add a “.” before the @ sign or reword the tweet so everyone can see it.
The best way to learn how to tweet is to read tweets! Follow those people you think have smart things to say, and learn what type of content they share and how they tweet.