Making your tweets readable and retweetable

I once took an English class where the teacher promised to fail anyone who went more than 10 percent above or below the required word count for an assignment. And most of the assignments were limited to a mere 500 words.

Accustomed to blathering on for pages, working within this constraint actually made me a better writer, because I knew every word had to count. Much the same can be said about Twitter.

Having only 140 characters in which to express yourself can be limiting, especially when you’re just starting out. But it’s an excellent opportunity to learn how to get your point across concisely. The trick is to do it in a way that’s clear and readable.

It’s tempting to try to cram as many words as possible into your tweets, and to promote your shiny new Twitter account by using lots of hashtags. Unfortunately, both these techniques can backfire, leading to nearly-unreadable tweets and a loss of followers.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

Gd lck 2 #Atlanta #Braves 2day while they wk 2ward #World #Series #victory! Snd yr #congrats 4 a gr8 game ystrday! #baseball #mlb #georgia

Now, that wasn’t very fun to read, was it? It takes too much time to understand it.

Instead, work on making your tweets both brief and readable. The occasional hashtag or abbreviation is fine - just don’t use more than a couple per tweet.

Here’s how we could make the tweet above better:

Good luck, Atlanta #Braves! On their way to World Series victory after a great game yesterday! #mlb

The beauty of this tweet is that it’s 38 characters shy of the limit - which makes it easy for others to retweet! Over-abbreviating to cram in every possible word makes your post difficult to retweet (especially if people want to add their own commentary). It’s hard to abbreviate an abbreviation, after all!

By making your tweets simpler, minimizing abbreviations, and using hashtags with discretion, you can make your Twitter stream a pleasure to follow, and make your content easier for others to pass along.