Image via WikipediaHow can you sex up your Tweets?
It can be hard sometimes getting what you want said into 140 characters – particularly when you bear in mind that you’re actually closer to 120 characters if you want to get retweeted and 110 characters if you’re tweeting a link to something (which is the purpose of a great many Tweets). So how can you not only get your point across but also get it across so that people actually take notice of what you're sharing?
Here, in no particular order, are ten sexy Tweet tips.
1) Think like a newspaper – you’re writing a headline, so write in the present tense and in the language of urgency. Take out any waffle and stick to hard fact. Don’t do ‘man assaulted his dog by biting it’ but ‘man bites dog’. Tweets are great for practising headline writing!
2) Where possible and appropriate, use action words rather than passive ones, smashes, punches, kicks, breaks, shoots and that sort of thing.
3) Cut out prepositions (at, by, with, from, etc). You can always write around needing them, usually by re-forming the sentence in a more active way. ‘The Government has signed a big deal with the traffic authority’ becomes ‘Government signs traffic deal’. And so on.
4) Cut out articles, too – the definite (the) and indefinite (a, an) alike. ‘Durban to hold an ice skating championship for the first time’ becomes ‘Durban ice skating championship first’.
5) Adjectives are evil. Even the most awful sub knows that every time you use one in a headline, God kills a kitten. And it’s the same for Tweets, so avoid describing things (broad market, blue pony, ephemeral memory – the first word in each of these describes the thing it refers to and is unnecessary in the punchy language of headline or Tweet writing) unless it’s crucial to the meaning of your Tweet (which is, incidentally, highly unlikely).
6) Think about your followers and what they’re likely to be interested in. If you’re tweeting a link, you’ve already thought ‘the guys’ll be interested in this one’ but prioritise – what’s the over-riding biggie in there? Lead with that, the most colourful and impactful aspect of the link, not with an attempt to provide a deep analysis. The link will give the facts, you’re just looking to make sure people get why the link matters. A little extrapolation can help here – what will this move, fact or conclusion mean down the line, what will it lead to? You can do this by using a question, for instance, ‘MS Signs Bing Twitter Deal: Real Time Search a Reality?’
7) Do you need a hashtag? Hashtags make subjects easy to search and flags your Tweets as part of a conversation around a topic. I’m sure there’s a statistic somewhere for this, but the vast majority of Hashtags never get used beyond a few Tweets. If you do decide you need a hashtag, make it as short and yet unique as possible. One hashtag should do it - if you’re thinking of flagging a Tweet with two or more hashtags, take the hard road and drop the extras.
8) I’ve been interested by the evolution in the way we use emoticons and after a discussion around this with the team at Spot On Towers, I’ve started using emoticons as punctuation, rather than in addition to punctuation. It does rather go against the literary grain, but it cuts down on characters and ‘clutter’ too.
9) Use a link shortener. TweetDeck and other Twitter clients have automatic link shorteners, but my favourite is TweetBurner’s Twurls because it gives you statistics regarding how many people clicked through your link, when and so on. This means you can tell which Tweets are, in fact, most relevant to your followers – and if you’re Tweeting for work, gives you metrics.
10) Last but by no means least, apply the DIGAFF filter. (Do I Give A Flying) If you care about something you’re sharing, other people will. If you’re just passing something on that might be of interest to someone, it’s probably not worth passing it on. Also take a second to make sure that you’re not the 200th person to share that same fact! If you’re consistently sharing punchy, witty and relevant Tweets that link to cool stuff I, for one, want to follow you!