Learning how to efficiently convey your thoughts in fewer than 140 characters can be challenging for new Twitter users. However, you can improve your tweet-composing skills by learning how to summarize your thoughts and properly use hashtags. You should also follow basic style rules and adhere to proper retweet etiquette.
Summarizing Your Thoughts
When Twitter officially launched in 2007, the company's founders settled on a maximum tweet length of 140 characters -- the length of a text message on their mobile phones. While few users nowadays opt to receive tweets by text message, Twitter kept the 140-character limit in place, forcing users to keep their messages short and to the point. In many cases, you have have even fewer than 140 characters with which to express your thoughts, because it is good practice to leave some free space for your followers to add a personalized message when they forward -- or retweet -- your message. If you include a link at the end of your tweet and a hashtag or two, the number of characters with which to convey your thoughts is even smaller.
The key to writing a good tweet is to get straight to the point and omit superfluous words or ideas, while still keeping your sentence or phrase grammatically correct. For example, if you want to promote your latest e-book, which you are selling at a discounted price on Amazon for 24 hours, you may send the following tweet: "Download 'The Tides of Mars' today on Kindle for $3.99!" followed by relevant hashtags and a link to your book on Amazon.com. Notice how the tweet gets straight to the point in 55 characters and contains only relevant information -- the title, the platform, the promotional price and a reminder that your followers should act today if they want the discount.
While it takes time and practice to master the art of composing meaningful tweets, resist the occasional urge to split your tweets to circumvent the 140-character limit. Splitting your message into multiple tweets numbered sequentially is generally viewed as bad practice because any retweet of those messages could result in users getting only a portion of your original message.
Following Basic Grammar and Style Rules
Just because you are limited to 140 characters does not mean you should stop paying attention to spelling, use unsightly abbreviations or ignore basic grammar rules. Keep in mind that anything you write on Twitter can be viewed by anyone -- including friends, family and future employers. On Twitter, how you write is an important part of how others perceive you. If grammar and spelling are not your strength, run your tweets through an online spell-checker before sending them.
Be careful when using acronyms or smileys. While occasionally adding "LOL" or a smiley face to your tweets can be fun and endearing, overusing them can have the opposite effect and negatively affect your credibility.
Reaching More Users With Hashtags
Even if you are just starting out on Twitter, you may already be familiar with hashtags -- those keywords preceded by pound signs that regularly appear on television during popular shows or in print ads. Hashtags are a vital part of Twitter, as they allow users to quickly find all tweets that are related to a certain topic. For example, clicking on the "#Survivor" hashtag displays all the tweets that are related to that TV show. Using hashtags is essential to growing your list of followers because they allow people who have never heard of you to find your tweets and follow you. However, properly selecting and using hashtags can be tricky. Only add hashtags that are relevant. Tagging a link to your lemon meringue pie recipe with the #SuperBowl hashtag during the annual sports event would probably cause you to be at the receiving end of a few angry tweets from users wondering what a recipe has to do with football. In addition, limit your hashtags to a maximum of two per tweet. A study by Sales Force Marketing Cloud and Buddy Media shows that adding one or two hashtags to your tweets significantly increases the number of times a tweet is retweeted or the link attached to it is clicked. However, the user engagement rate drastically falls off when three or more hashtags are added to a tweet.
Following Proper Retweet Etiquette
The three types of retweets on Twitter are native retweets, manual retweets and modified retweets. Native retweets occur when you click on the "Retweet" link under a tweet. The main drawback to using native retweets is that you cannot edit the original tweet to add a personalized message to your followers. For this reason, some people prefer to use manual retweets. To create a manual retweet, copy the entirety of the original tweet and paste it into a new tweet, preceded by a personalized message. If you alter the original message, you create a modified retweet, which can be controversial. By modifying the retweet, you are putting words in another person's mouth. Even if your edits are minimal, you could subtly change the meaning of the original tweet. To avoid this situation, steer clear of modified retweets and stick to the manual and native forms.
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