How to Write Great Tweets

Writing for Twitter isn't rocket science, but there's a method to the 140-character madness.

From Flickr user Danilo Ramos.
Here are a few pointers for writing tweets that make sense, have relevance, and drive retweets and other desired actions.

  • Simplify – You only have 140 characters, including your link, to state your message. Don’t cram in too many ideas. You can tweet more than once a day, and send more than one tweet about each piece of content. Stick to one idea per tweet. 
  • Don’t over-abbreviate. New people join Twitter every day, and new followers join our feeds every day. Assume that folks won't know all the jargon and make the content accessible. If you need lots of abbreviations, simplify the message. Don’t try to mash 500 words of copy into a single, undecipherable tweet. 
  • Use keywords associated with your SEO strategy (i.e. the same ones in your website metadata and your ads), but don’t overuse or insert where they don't make sense. 
  • Use #hashtags, but not too many. Hashtags help people find your content on Twitter and also can be used to tag tweets that are part of live Twitter chats or ongoing discussions. They also help you identify trends.
Here’s an example of a tweet with too many hashtags, including one that’s totally irrelevant:
  • You should read #WaPo! Great #paper! #news #local #finance #business #sports #food #entertainment #JustinBieber 

This tweet might better portray what we want to say:

  • Check out today’s #WaPo. Get the latest #news – local stories, business and finance, sports, entertainment, and food. 

But let’s go one step further – this tweet has a LOT of ideas. Let's treat these ideas separately, like this:

  • Check out today’s #WaPo for the latest #local news in DC, MD, and VA. 
This tweet is more relevant, engaging, and actionable. It simplifies the idea, focuses the intent, gives more details, and provides a link (something actionable) for more information. We’ve also limited ourselves to two hashtags, to make our tweet findable, but still readable.

What's your biggest challenge on Twitter? Let me know.

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