Tips for Those Who Like to Tweet on Twitter


How To Tweet Like A Pro in 140 Characters—Or Less

Twitter’s character limit is tight, but with the right guidance, you can tweet like a champ and even create the occasional Twoosh (perfect, 140-character tweet).

Lance Ulanoff

By Lance Ulanoff
June 28, 2011 02:00pm EST
I’ve been reading around the Web how Twitter actually makes you a better writer—or at least a more adroit copywriter, meaning that you can write in 140 character sound bites. Every sentence is a complete idea with a minimum of fluff and needless words.It’s no wonder. Crafting a good 140 character tweet on Twitter is truly an art. The first part of successful Twitter communication is figuring out how to get the most out of (or into) your 140 character allotment. I do not, by the way, prescribe to the notion of tweet extenders. If you insist on writing more than 140 characters, then Twitter is not for you. I’d suggest Facebook or a blog.

I produced this guide sometime ago, but have decided to update it for the latest generation of Twitter members. When I first wrote this, there were over 70 million Twitter users, but now there are, by some estimates, at least 300 million.

Remember, these are not rules, but simple tips that could help you get that brilliant bit of Twitter prose into a tweet that not only stays under 140 characters, but allows room for your followers to retweet and add their own comments. By the way, when you hit exactly 140 characters in a tweet, feel free to reward yourself with a silent “Twoosh!”

1) Don’t Multi-ReTweet: Twitter is a great community where members are more than willing to credit other tweeters with a great idea or link, but sometimes it goes too far. I’ve seen “via” as many as four Twitter account names in one tweet. That’s a lot of characters. If you’re running low on characters, cut out some of the credits and leave just the original poster.

2) Use Word Shortcuts: “With” becomes “w/.” “Love” becomes “Luv.” Retweeting becomes “RT-ing.” “Characters” becomes “Chars.” The last probably only works in the context of this tweet. My Point is that you have to be creative.

3) Drop Vowels: English majors and professors, avert your eyes. As long as it’s still readable, you can do things like turn “classroom” into “classrm”.

4) Contractions: The other night I was watching the move “True Grit” (2010 version) where virtually all the characters speak in a stiff, oddly formal way. How did they do it? By never using contractions. You want to do the opposite. “It is” becomes “it’s” and “can not” becomes “can’t.” Not a lot of savings, but every character and space counts. Plus, the tweet will avoid the halting “True Grit” cadence.

5) No More “And”s: “And” can always become “+”. That’s two characters back to you!

6) Omit Needless Characters and Bylines: Too many sites generate shareable tweets full of useless garbage, like dashes, spaces, and more than one attribution (if people follow the link, they will see the byline). You can cut some or all of that.

7) Drop Pronouns: One of the easiest to lose is “that.” So “the website that I luv” becomes “the website I luv”. Try it; it works.

8) Omit Needless Words: This is one of the first lessons I learned in journalism and writing. Seriously, you’d be shocked at how many people cram in extra articles (“the,” “an”) into a 140 post.

9) Kill “I”: You can make your tweets more declarative and shorter if you occasionally drop the “I”. And, yes, “you” can become “u”. In fact, I’d say there are numerous character-saving, texting tricks you can apply in the Twitter realm.

10) Turn Words into Numbers: “Two” becomes “2” and “one” becomes “1”.

11) Remove Extra Spaces: Twitter counts double spaces between words. Make sure your retweets and your own tweets are not full of extra spaces.

12) Rewrite: As long as you give them credit for the link, a requisite @[twittername], and do not change the meaning of the post, you’re in good shape.

13) Shorten Links: Most people use link shorteners, but not every link reducer is alike. TinyURL is good, so is Twitter’s own internal link shortener creates some of the leanest links. If you’re retweeting a tweet with an expanded URL, don’t forget to shrink it.

14) Drop the period: The last period at the end of your tweet is unnecessary. People will know you’re done.

15) Show Hash Tag Control: The words in your tweet serve as pretty strong keywords in and of themselves. If you need a hash to better define your topic, like “#mobile,” be sure to find the shortest keyword and use just one hash tag per tweet.

Bonus Challenge: If you’re going to retweet, try to add your own personal comment. My format is always “Me: [say something interesting here].” Of course, this means that the original tweet has to be even shorter. Tough, but doable, and your followers will thank you for it.

35 responses to “Tips for Those Who Like to Tweet on Twitter

  1. I dont have a twitter , but i find it funy that it said at some point, that “twitter can make people better writers”. How could this be if the tips show to use “lol” “omw” writing, we cant learn by using shortcuts. The tips seem helpful for people that are really into twitter .

  2. Rosamaria Valdez-Lopez

    This makes me laugh because of how serious some people can get about things that should not matter as much as other things. Especially because it is a social network and I have one, but would never take it that serious.

  3. Twitter is for the birds. It definitely alters the way it’s users think about the world.

  4. This post is exactly why the english language is being ruined. There is no, “Hello friend, how are you doing today?” So now children and teens are now talking as a tweet, “Yo how r u 2day” Horrible sentence structures. I do admire the effort and time it took this individual to creat this blog however

  5. This guy took a lot of time to figure out the most effective way to maximize the amount of information in one tweet. His tips are good but i think most people just tweet what their thinking and don’t give it that much thought.

  6. This is really useful but I don’t have a problem spelling things out.

  7. Well, I don’t really use Twitter even though I have an account, but these tips seem really helpful. If you “tweet” correctly, then it seems like it takes more thought that I had assumed it did.

  8. I don’t have a twitter and I’m not looking to make one anytime soon. I still don’t see the point in having one. But there are funny twitter pages I check out.

  9. These are the struggles of todays society. Twitter is so popular and everyone complains about things involving social networks such as these steps to tweeting. However this idea of changing writting style from the grammaticaly correct way is also extremely scary because I have personally seen how people write essays using texting lingo rather then real english and although it is funny to me, the truth is that its scary to realize people actually think that they can write essays like that too.

  10. Twitter drives me nuts. I used to have one but I just personally don’t see the point anymore. The only reason I use it is to stalk celebrities…I mean, keep up on the news!

  11. This is interesting eventhough I do not have a twitter because I do not see the purpose in it. I do have a facebook and when I post, I use all commas, capitol letters, and correct pronouns, but for those that are interested in Twitter, they tend to abreviate their wording because the post does get a bit long, so I understand.

  12. This video is so great. It gives you tips that are really helpful for people who spend time on twitter. I am not a twitter-user, but the tips in this web posting are pretty funny. This basically tests you on your knowledge and use of words.

  13. These tips are pretty helpful for someone who actually spends time on twitter.

  14. I mean this could be useful when tweeting but I don’t really put too much into thought when tweeting something. It is just kind of in the moment when I do tweet.

  15. These were very helpful tips. I don’t tweet a lot but when I do it’s to the point and this helps even more.

    • I have a twitter and I do not tweet alot but enough. This article is very true it does make you think and format your thought the most effective way in 140 characters. Alot of these tips are something I believe tweeters do naturally. Crazy what social networking has become.

  16. I like these tips although I actually do not spam tweets like the majority of the people.

  17. I don’t have a twitter and I don’t think I should have one. Its hard for me to write enough when writing essays already, so learning and getting use to a way of writing that requires me to become even briefer would likely be detrimental to my writing skills. There are too many social networking sites. I don’t need another one, I will just stick with Instagram and Facebook.

  18. These tips seem very useful, but I have become annoyed with twitter. I get annoyed because people dont know how to use the right punctuation, it makes me question them. But these tips seemed very useful.

  19. This is definitely an in depth look at tweeting, but whatever works I guess. Tips 1,2,3…okay ALL of these tips are silly. I actually get mad when people forget to include the correct punctuation just to save room. Also spelling words in ways that would actually take me time to misspell on purpose gets on my nerves. You’d expect adults to type in nice, full sentences and teenagers to type incorrectly, but I ‘ve actually come to find out that it is generally the exact opposite. My parents and older sisters will leave out punctuation or spell words in a “shortened” way and I’ve just learned to deal with it. If you are an intelligent person, please let it flow through your thumbs because it is just much easier to read.

  20. I have a twitter, but this is really over thinking about sending a tweet out haha. I would never take the time to edit and shorten my tweet, whenever I think of something I want to tweet I just tweet it.

  21. I am not a twitter-user, but the tips in this web posting are pretty funny. I can’t tell if twitter-art (140 character post) is a joke or not, but so far I’m taking it as a joke cause some of the tips are hilarious due to the fact that they are trying to make a 140 perfect post.

  22. This is actually quite funny because they have a druid test you can take on twitter, which basically tests you on your knowledge and use of words.

  23. Jonestly out of all the social networks i find twitter very boring. But these tips are very creative although i dont agree on making this our daily language or writting. because once you do it on a Social network it becomes a lifestyle.

  24. Im not a tweeter at all I actually think twitter is boring. I would rather just call someone or send them a text rather than going on twitter to contact them.

  25. I’ve heard about tweeting but never really looked into it, something about reading what people think about who wore what better on the red carpet doesn’t sound worth my time. I laugh at people who fallow celebrities on any form of social network; and try to interact with them like they know them personally, isn’t it a form of stalking? All these social networks actually make me sick, we place individuals who plays hero’s on television and on the big screen on a pedestal; while the real heroes go un praised. On that note fallow me on instagram; vaz50 I post pictures of my breakfast, lunch, dinner, as well as any snacks in between.

  26. I am not into tweeting it is kind of boring to me. But I am sure his ideas are correct.

  27. I’m not very big on twitter. I don’t like to follow my friend or write my own things on twitter. These tips are in fact very informative and creative.

  28. You said, “Garbage in–garbage out!!!!”
    But real English does occur. Some write in TwitterSpeak, but “…brevity is the soul of wit,…”

  29. I agree that the Twitter generation has lost the ability to use standard English. But we should not blame Twitter. When given 14,000 characters to write correctly, many still resort to a Twitterized bastardization of English. Is it ignorance or laziness? Maybe it is some kind of juvenile attempt at self-expression. I don’t know. If it is not destroying the English language (I fear it is), it is certainly changing its appearance very quickly.

  30. Personally, I don’t Tweet on Twitter–it bores me; I’d rather read Latin, Anglo-Saxon (if I could do so), Old English like Chaucer, or Shakespeare any day of the week. I can’t believe Twitter is now the main source of news (as recently reported on TV). Garbage in–garbage out!!!! I enjoyed Ismael’s ironic rendition of Twitterspeak. I’m glad he doesn’t submit papers that read this way or I’d quickly be disengaged.

  31. Very creative writing. I have never given that much thought to my tweets; then again I don’t think I have any followers as well. This is interesting .

  32. I understand the possible benefits of this for people who take tweeting seriously, even though I myself, DO NOT! I hate twitter and tweets, this form of communication, could, be really useful for a majority of the time, if it wasn’t being used for stupid, self-centered, moronic tweets.

    “Why such harsh feelings for something that could actually be useful?”
    As an individual who believes grammar and punctuation is still important, these type of “tips and tricks” actually piss me off to a great deal. Young individuals don’t just leave this to twitter due to a character limit, they involve it in all forms of their writing/typing, injuring their skills dramatically because they never correctly practice these important traits which are apart of communication. This also happens to injure in they vocal communication skills. Reading, Writing, and Speaking are all within the category of “Communication” and ignoring this basic fundamental, our society’s capabilities in these subjects such as standard communication, intellectual understanding, grammar, syntax, punctuation, all goes out the window day by day.

    “Richard, you’re over reacting, it’s not nearly as bad as you make it sound.” Have you seen high school papers? or even more terrifying, some of the college level papers that are being turned in by OUR generation. It’s truly an embarrassing travesty, and it is not something we should remotely be proud of.

    If you want to use these tips and tricks, Leave them to twitter. Don’t even apply them to texts, texting should be daily practice for individuals to get to the main point without dancing around egg shells that aren’t even there. Don’t send a text saying “So what are you doing?” if you want to do something with an individual say “There will be a party at 10:00 P.M. this Saturday, Are you in?”

    “But commas, periods and grammar take a lot of time to type.”
    No, No they don’t. Stop being lazy, and don’t act like you were actually doing anything to begin with, you were in your bed hoping that your boss would call you and say “Don’t come in to work today, the building has been taken hostage by evil naked mole rats bent on the destruction of the world.”

  33. I thought it was interesting to see someone take this much time to come up with these tips. Every single one of them goes against everything we have learned in school. I have never been a fan of Twitter.

  34. U no how I lik 2 right bout’ stuff. Its not necesry 2 be a grammatikly correct righter. Dis knew righting style is da way of da future. All da classical rightings of the passed have no relevance in 2days lyf. Jesus Christ. This hurts to write.

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