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How Many Characters Should a Tweet Be?

Updated on September 9, 2014
Should a tweet be 140 characters? Absolutely not.
Should a tweet be 140 characters? Absolutely not.

You can use 140 characters on Twitter, right? Well...

Yes, you can use up to one hundred and forty characters - and that includes spaces - on Twitter. But should you?

Why are you using Twitter?

If you're using the service simply as a way to chat with friends (do people really do that?) all well and good.

But what most of us are doing, in one way or another, is promotion. That doesn't necessarily mean in a commercial sense.

Users might be showcasing a charity, a sporting event or a concert series. Writers aim to increase their readership, artists tweet to gain awareness of their work ... there are so many reasons.

Spreading the word

Some people get very het up about the fact that they don't have many followers. That is no problem at all if your messages are interesting, add value and are sharable.

Make it easy for others to share - they'll appreciate it

A typical Twitter message
A typical Twitter message | Source

Instructions:

1. This is a typical message. The goal here is to attract readers to a page with a tasty recipe.The message ends with the link which has been shortened.

In total, it has exactly 140 characters. So that's fine, isn't it? No.

The message to be retweeted
The message to be retweeted | Source

2. Here's what happens if someone retweets my message. My user name, plus RT @ and a colon then a space are added.This means that the message is now 157 characters and too long.

The user has to edit it if they are going to share the message.

Believe me, many people at this stage will think 'forget it - I can't be bothered'.

Don't give retweeters the opportunity to remove your link
Don't give retweeters the opportunity to remove your link | Source

3. So let's say that a determined user wants to retweet the message and decides that they'll take the time to edit it. (And that's rare - I'm unlikely to do it).

If a user is retweeting to flatter you (it happens) they might start at the end and remove your link. We're busy people. No link defeats the object.

See the image on the right and you'll see the edits and that it's now down to 121 characters. That's great, isn't it? Nope.

Leave room for retweeters to add their own comments
Leave room for retweeters to add their own comments | Source

4. Social media is about being, well, social. It's not a good idea to retweet a message without adding your own comments.And see what's happened here.

I've added just two words and now we're up to 139 characters. So yes, it's tweetable but it won't be passed on again without edits. So we're back where we started.

How to cut the length of a Twitter message
How to cut the length of a Twitter message | Source

5. So now, to make it sharable, even more edits are needed. Editing can be quite quick with practice.For example, 'do you want to know' can go without changing the meaning. So can 'here's a great'. A comma can be used between 'quick' and 'easy'.Sure, it's not too tricky.

But why make it hard for people? It can be tricky for people who are writers but, for example - 10:00 p.m. counts as 10 characters whereas 10pm is just four, and people understand it just as well.

The idea Twitter message
The idea Twitter message | Source

6. Here's what the tweet SHOULD have been in the first place. Note that I have shortened in further by using an ampersand. It now has 71 characters.

In fact, I could even get rid of 'how to make' because the word 'recipe' makes it redundant.'Quick easy recipe for the best Bubble & Squeak' would be just fine too - and has a character count that's even better. And a lot more sharable

Twitter is incredibly important. It shouldn't be dismissed as a frivolous medium. The world's top companies and organisations are using it and we can too. Absolutely free. And in many ways, it's a level playing field - we can compete with the big boys. Learn how from the book below.

Shopping List

Twitter For Dummies
Twitter For Dummies

I've always been dubious about the name of this series of books. Who's a dummy? But we all know just how good they are and they do explain things in an easy-to-understand manner.

You owe it to yourself to learn how to make the most of this incredibly valuable marketing tool.

 

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    • BarbRad profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 

      4 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Great suggestions. I do try to edit, but feel guilty about calling it a RT when I change the actual wording. I usually won't remove more than mentions and hashtags.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @John Dyhouse: It is - I probably made it sound more complicated than it really is :)

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 

      4 years ago from UK

      And I though using Twitter was easy

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Merrci: Thanks for reading, Merrci.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Ibidii: Thanks for dropping by!

    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna 

      4 years ago from Perth UK

      Yes, yes, yes!!

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 

      4 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Good points, all! Thanks for another lesson!

    • profile image

      Ibidii 

      4 years ago

      I have to set up an account and this is great advice! Thank you! :)

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @David Stone1: Thanks Dave. Twitter is a little more complicated than it first seems :)

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 

      4 years ago from New York City

      Wow, very useful. Hadn't really thought about any of this.

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