Optimise, not maximise your tweets

2009 September 25
by velvet

TwitterbirdWhen I first started using Twitter, I often had trouble keeping my tweets under 140 characters. How does one tweet about something interesting, add the link and a comment, and keep it all within the 140-limit? It’s a challenge that, thankfully, became easier with practice. URL-shortening services like bit.ly certainly helped. My initial focus was on my word-shortening skills. Typical examples: ‘Great’ = ‘gr8’; ‘the’ = ‘d’; ‘about’ = ‘abt’ and the list goes on. If the tweet was too short, I would add extra text to maximise the 140 characters.

However, I soon learned that maximising the 140 character limit didn’t necessarily mean I was optimising the effectiveness of the tweet. I needed to create more space. You’re probably wondering why you need that extra space if everything fits into 140 characters. By experimenting with various tweet lengths, I realised that to maximise the effectiveness of my tweets, I needed extra space to facilitate easier re-tweeting and for comments from those re-tweeting. I learned that by keeping the length of my tweet to around 100 characters, I left sufficient space for the tweet to grow (via re-tweets) and become more interesting (via comments from re-tweeters).

When someone re-tweets, extra space is required to accommodate the name of the person re-tweeting. That takes up a maximum of 15 characters. In addition, more characters are needed for comments. Comments help to endorse the contents of the tweet. Moreover, comments often spark a lively discussion; this in turn increases the exposure of the original tweet and the topic.

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