The Critical Importance of 130 Characters or Less (Twitter)
During the Calgary and Southern Alberta Flood I have witnessed the golden rule of Twitter being broken over and over again. What’s that rule? Use 130 characters or less!
I know. Twitter allows for 140 characters but the thing is, tweets are meant for sharing and as soon as you hit that share button, your Twitter handle ends up in front of the original tweet taking up characters. This means, the end of the tweet gets cut off if you share it “as is”. This often means losing a critical hyperlink or hashtag to the referred information.
On a regular week, this is annoying and simply bad Twitter practice — and it may mean your tweet won’t even get shared.
During a crisis, this is a disaster.
Losing links to important financial help, news updates, health and safety concerns, resources to help is really defeating the entire purpose of Twitter… rapid and effective social sharing.
Losing relevant #hashtags (notable during our 2013 flood crisis: #abflood #yycflood #yychelps) means that your tweet will not be found in searches on that subject (adding # in front of a word makes it “clickable” and “searchable”).
Here are some examples (I’m sharing these ones, not to criticize the organizations, but because I love their messages and it’s a chance to get the word out a bit more, while using them as an example – hope nobody is offended!):
Original 1: Too Long
Note the red number at the bottom of the tweet? (I’m using Hootsuite here) -18 means this tweet, as it’s written, is 18 characters too long to be shared “as is” once I hit the “retweet” (share) button. In this instance, both the hyperlink to their important news and the hashtag would be cut off.
I did a little edit for them before I retweeted (most people are too lazy to do this kind of editing for you, which is why it’s important to keep it brief and save them the trouble so they share for you with ease).
Edited 1: Sharable
First, note that when you hit the “retweet” button it pops an RT in front of the original tweet to let people know you are sharing a statement from someone else. But in this case, since I edited the core tweet, I changed the RT to an MT – modified tweet – to let people know I edited it (it’s polite – I forget to do it all the time though but it’s the right thing to do).
Second, can you spot the differences between the original tweet and my edited tweet? I flipped the sentence around to take out a number of extra words. It may lose some of the impact, but it delivers the same point and keeps the hyperlink and the hashtag safe inside the tweet I shared.
What I love about this tweet, and most people do this now, is that they shortened the URL. Long URLs take up space, so be sure to use the link shorteners included with most Twitter platforms now.
Original 2: Too Long
Again, this tweet is 17 characters too long, once retweeted (because @name, your handle, has to go in front). In this instance, your cutting off a hashtag that is more a meme than a critical connection, but it also cuts off the end of the statement (by a few characters). Meaning, this one isn’t a critically too long tweet, but it’s not as retweetable as it should be for such a great offer!
Edited 2: Sharable
This one was simple to edit. Do you see what I did? I just took out extraneous words – of, the, their, in. That’s it. I took out four words and the statement still makes perfect sense.
Twitter is about making a point and making it fast and making it sharable. It is not about perfect English (or any other language) grammar. So write as if you are sharable, always! Because you are.
Call to action
Write every post at 120 characters or less so you can be doubly retweeted with ease. You can do it! Take a stab at sharing a 120 word comment below with a link to your own blog or next promotion. (put the long link if you like, we’ll pretend it’s a shortened URL.)