The Composition of a Good Tweet- Not as Simple as You Might Think

July 16, 2013

Twitter is simple, right? 140 characters and you’re done – let’s move on to the hard stuff (Facebook, LinkedIn). Unfortunately, as those who use Twitter know, once you get down into it, the composition of a good tweet can be a tricky thing.

 

3 Main Components of a Tweet

 

1. Text

2. Hashtag(s)

3. Link

 

 

 

Text

 

You get 140 characters (or so you might think) to get your message across on Twitter. Because of this, punctuation becomes less important on Twitter. You may have to sacrifice periods, commas, quotes or unnecessary words to allow your message to fit. You may also have to use some abbreviations – totally okay as long as they are widely known enough. The Rule of Thumb on Twitter is: If someone doesn’t need a dictionary to comprehend your tweet, you’re good.

 

However, we are businesses, so when possible, it is important to maintain a certain level of professionalism as well. Use capital letters, periods where you can, quotes, etc, to try to maintain some semblance of a sentence. 

 

Hashtag(s)

 

“A tag embedded in a message posted on the Twitter microblogging service, consisting of a word within the message prefixed with a hash sign.” – Wikipedia definition.

 

#thisisahashtag – a word, phrase, or abbreviation typed as all one word with the # sign in front of it.

 

The whole point of using hashtags as a business on Twitter is to highlight the keywords you’d want that tweet to be found for. As seen above, the term or phrase becomes highlighted and thus searchable on Twitter. In the tweet I’ve highlighted above, I #SocialMediaMarketing #Delmar #NY and #Twitter because I wanted anyone searching for social media marketing and/or Twitter expertise in the Delmar area of NY to find this tweet about our workshop.

 

As you can see, the proper use of hashtags can exponentially increase the visibility of a tweet. Think about it in terms of SEO; you optimize your content to be found on search engines by using keywords (among other things) –

Twitter is the same way.

 

There are plenty of uses for hashtags in business. Entire communities are created around hashtags (example #tgif). We see them more and more now for events and holidays. Search #olympics during the 2014 Olympics, and you’ll see anything anyone said on Twitter about the Olympics. Another example we see now is on commercials and television shows, “Join the conversation on Twitter…” followed by whatever hashtag Target, JCPenny, Coke, etc, is using for that particular campaign.

 

Link

 

As businesses, when we do something marketing-related, particularly online, we always have one action we want someone to take. It’s called a Call-to-Action, and on Twitter the call-to-action is the link.

 

Because of the limited nature of a tweet, the links we include often have to be shortened. Some URL’s alone could take up 140 characters.

 

By shortened, I mean you take a long link, put it into a URL shortening service (of which there are many), and the service creates a smaller, unique URL for you to use. When this shortened URL is clicked or typed into the browser it automatically redirects to the original URL. Most shortened links are about 18 characters long. You’ll note the “ow.ly/mNO6i” in the image above (a Hootsuite shortened link).

 

A few good URL shorteners:

 

Bit.ly – simple but effective (and free)

Hootsuite – social media management software

Goo.gl – Google’s URL shortener (also free)

 

All of these services are free at the basic level as long as you make a free account – and there’s no reason not to – all three of these services have link click-tracking capability. This means that because they create unique URL’s, they can track the number of clicks on that URL. The ability to look at this information and measure it over time is crucial to determining which content does well and what to avoid.

 

So, how does a good tweet come together?

  • Subtract out approx 20 characters for the link

  • Keep in mind the possibility of a retweet

    • “RT @username” – 19 characters max

  • Think about where to include your hashtags

    • Part of the text – saves characters

    • After the text – subtract out the # and the word for each hashtag

  • Will you mention someone? Subtract out the @username.

  • At most you’re looking at max 120 (of 140) characters

    • Shoot for about 100 characters, give or take a few.

 

This only scratches the surface of using Twitter for business, but the composition of good tweets along with good engagement practices can go a long way towards increase the visibility of your business and educating consumers on what you do and how you can help them.

 

Have questions I didn’t answer? Contact me anytime.

 

 

 

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