If there is a single rule to live by in social media, or in digital storytelling in general, it would be this: Brevity is the key. This isn’t about less is more, although it often is, it is about understanding. It is about getting across one message. Not two, or three, or four, just one. Your audience doesn’t want to dig through all of the dirt to, maybe, possibly, find one golden nugget. They want you to hand it to them. Not because the new generation has a poor attention span, or there’s too much marketing noise to compete with. But because we are mortal and our time is precious.
There is no platform where this is more evident than Twitter. Every character counts when you only have 140 characters to get your message across. 118 if you include a link. Although other platforms don’t have the same restriction, you still shouldn’t abandon all concision. Research has shown that the ideal post length is 100 characters for Twitter, 40 characters for Facebook, 60 characters for Google+. But brevity is not easy. It takes careful crafting.
So without further ado, I give you our hand-picked tips to writing in 140 characters or less. Oh, and bonus points if you can guess who said the first quote without Google.
Tips for cutting clear, concise copy
- Remove fluffy words, and when in a pinch, you can always abrv8! – Lillian Smith, Senior Digital Marketing Specialist
- Find popular abbreviated hashtags. For example, Data Loss Prevention can be #DLP – Ashley Hirschbeck, Digital Marketing Specialist
- Pretend your tweet is the first line in a major news article. – Shelly Gregory, Senior Digital Marketing Specialist
- Go ahead and write out that stream of consciousness, but then read it, identify the meat, and edit, edit, edit. – Michele Pendergast, Digital Marketing Specialist
- Show, don’t tell. Memes, imagery, and videos may squash the need for text altogether in the very near future. – Jeannie Christensen, Digital Marketing Director
- Use simple words more often than elaborate ones. – Michelle Benedict, Director of Paid Media
- Just write what you want to say and then look for the fat you can trim. – Kelly Strodl, Digital Marketing Director
- Don’t get emotionally attached to a catchy word or phrase, focus on the goal of the message. – Morgan Adams, Digital Designer
- Be smart about abbreviation, avoid abbreviating words that aren’t commonly abbreviated (“sec” instead of “security”) and unprofessional abbreviations (“u” instead of “you”). – Kristine deGuzman, Digital Marketing Director
- Remember KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid. – Michael Toledo, Senior Digital Marketing Specialist
Now lets put all of our tips into practice with three easy steps and write a tweet for this post.
Step one: write your heart out
The key to being able to write concise copy that readers will actually read is keeping things short and sweet. Here are our top ten tips for writing in 140 characters or less:
Step two: trim the fat
The key to being able to write concise copy is keeping things short.
Step three: replace & abbreviate
The key to clear copy is keeping it short – 10 tips to write in 140 characters:
What tips or steps do you use to shorten your prose? Share your thoughts in the comments below!