When Twitter first hit the social media scene a few years ago, many people scoffed at the idea. Why would I want to hear about the mundane things that happen to you each day. Then, people started to realize the value of the social media platform, only to point out its inherent limitations. What can I possibly accomplish in just 140 characters?
The fact of the matter is that you really can provide a great deal of value to your Twitter followers with less than 140 characters. You just have to know how you can best maximize that space without making it seem like you’re trying to cram as much information in there as possible. There are also a few general guidelines that you’ll want to keep in mind.
You Don’t Have to Use All 140 Characters
When you are provided with a certain amount of space, you may feel compelled to use it all. Don’t. If your message really needs to use up nearly all of that 140 character limit, then by all means use it, but don’t feel like you are “wasting” that extra space when you don’t. Some of the best and most impactful tweets also happen to be among the shortest. You can further trim the fat with intelligent use of hashtags.
Save Space for the Retweet
This may not always be possible, but you should be cognizant of the possibility. While direct “new” (they’re not that new anymore) retweets don’t take up any extra space, the traditional “old” retweet. They take on the format of “RT @username: Original tweet text here.”
In this instance, the retweet added 14 characters to the original tweet, including two spaces. If the person doing the retweeting wanted to add a comment ahead of the RT, that would add even more characters. In line with the previous tweet about not using all 140 characters, saving that “extra” space to allow for these “old” retweets can add value.
Utilize URL Shorteners
URLs are now automatically shortened by Twitter with the t.co domain, but it can be difficult to gauge the ultimate length of your tweet when you let it do this automatically. That’s why you may prefer to use a URL shortening service like bit.ly or ow.ly. They oftentimes also provide some tracking metrics and analytics, which can prove useful in your analysis of how popular your tweets and links are among your followers.
Pictures Are Worth a Thousand Words
I know. It’s cliche to say that, but it does make a world of difference in the realm of Twitter. You can upload your images directly to Twitter, use third party services like Instagram or Flickr, or send people directly to a page on your website. Whatever the case, pictures (and now video too) can really make an impact. The tweet from Oreo during the Super Bowl power outage was particularly effective for this reason.
No matter how you choose to use Twitter, if you want to make an impact, the best thing you can do is engage with your audience. Listen to what they have to say and provide value. Say something that matters.