20/06/2011

By Francesca James, Social Media Manager at Fresh BusinessThinking

Updates on Twitter (known as “tweets”) need to be written in 140 characters or less. This forces you to get to the point very quickly and is harder than you might expect. How on earth do you market yourself, mingle in the Twittersphere, and construct meaningful relationships when you can only post a couple of sentences at a time?

Twitter has experienced exponential growth since its launch in March 2006: it took Twitter 3 years, 2 months and 1 day to reach 1 billion tweets. Now its users send 1 billion updates per week. Twitter’s increased take-up is revolutionizing the way we communicate. Personally, I’ve noticed I’m more concise in everything I say, even offline, because I’m getting used to creating tweets that eject waffle and unnecessary filler words. If Twitter’s popularity continues at this rate, who knows how we’ll be conversing in years to come?

Email was once the new kid on the block, making the pen and paper almost redundant and signaling the start of faster-paced messaging, but Twitter makes sending an email seem old school. Twitter allows information to spread rapidly, much faster than any other platform has done before. Therefore, Twitter provides a useful tool for business - but how do you master the language? How do you describe something that you could usually talk about for hours when 140 characters equates to just seconds?

As ridiculous as it sounds, there is an art to “tweeting”.

To harness its true potential, your tweets should include a call to action alongside informative, interesting or engaging content - to squeeze that into 140 characters or less takes practice.

Here are a few tools and tricks that should help:

1. Shrink Links: One of the most common uses of Twitter is to share a link to an interesting article, blog post or product page. But you only have 140 characters to work with, so instead of posting the space-consuming link in its entirety, use one of several URL-shortening services. Bit.ly (also known as j.mp) is great because it allows real-time tracking of your links, enabling to see how popular each one was.

2. Proofread: Twitter allows for some deviation from perfect grammar, a missing word here and there will be forgiven as long as the tweet itself is still understandable. But make sure you haven’t over edited and that your tweets still make sense.

3. Have a personality: Twitter is a social network and, as with any social environment, there is nothing worse than someone with nothing interesting to say. If you use bland, marketing speak in your messages, it’s unlikely people will want to keep on following you. Try using the tone of voice you’d have in normal conversation. Whether you tend to be grumpy and cynical or upbeat and happy, it doesn’t matter: both types have plenty of followers on Twitter. This platform is all about expressing yourself. If you share an opinion that strikes a chord with other people, you may well get a “mention” which is when another user responds to your update directly by starting their tweet with “@” followed by your name. Check under the “mentions” tab on Twitter to see if you’ve had any mentions — and try to respond back.

4. Encourage “retweetsRT: Twitter moves in real-time and therefore tweets can be easily missed, especially if they don’t really grab anyone’s attention. Be clever with your headlines: what would make you click through? Consider that before sending all your tweets. If you’re sharing great content, people will want to pass it on to their followers, potentially expanding your reach and influence. Twitter has called this process the “retweet”. If someone wants to pass on your tweet to their network, they can simply hit the retweet button and Twitter will generate them a duplicate of your original message that credits you with finding and sharing it first. Alternatively, others can copy and paste your original tweet into their own, using the prefix “RT” and adding your Twitter name (or “handle”).

5. Synonyms: Use your thesaurus for word-shortening. There’s even a tool for this. Thsrs (get it?) allows you to enter a word and come up with one or more alternatives that contain fewer letters than the original word.

If you’re like me and brevity is not your strongest quality, the above tips should help you whittle down those characters to make your tweets work for you. Hopefully you’ll see your retweet rate improve and your mentions and followers go up!


Watch the video below featuring Jemima Gibbons of AAB Engage discussing how social media can positively impact your business

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About The Author

Francesca is the Social Media Manager at Fresh Business Thinking, you can follow her on twitter here.