Twitter. Have you heard of it? The social media platform that allows you 140 characters or less to make a profound or funny statement in an attempt to go viral? This platform has become essential to modern life, and to audience engagement. While the writing on social media platforms isn’t often considered high-brow, Twitter has a lot to teach us about how to be effective content writers.
Twitter is famous for its 140-character limit. When you only have 140 characters—or roughly 20-25 words depending on the length of your words—you better not be including any extra, fancy, erroneous SAT words.
The same goes for your writing. Readers don’t want their reading experience bogged down with extra words. Be short, snappy, and get to the gosh dang point already.
So, cut out any words or phrases that aren’t absolutely necessary. For example:
There are, on average, 6,000 tweets per second. Yes, that’s right. Per. Second. It’s very easy to get swallowed up by the volume, so if you want to be noticed, you have to be creative.
In general, readers online will read only 20%-30% of content before deciding to move on. You better grab attention in the first few words of your content writing or you can wave your readers goodbye. (Not that they’d notice because, heck, they’ve already moved on!)
According to HubSpot, “tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than tweets without images.” So, if you want to grab your readers’ attention (remember the 6,000 tweets per second?) and go viral, you must include an image. Plus, it’s a sneaky way to get around the 140-character limit.
Same goes for content writing. Buzzsumo found that articles with an image every 75-100 words receive double the social media shares.
We’ve written before on how to use visual text elements to create a scannable blog, so go check that out too, because textual elements like white space can be just as important as pictures.
Twitter doesn’t have an edit button. If you don’t check for typos, you end up with a major blunder like Yahoo Finance did in January 2017. The result is a deleted tweet, an awkward apology, and screenshots that people took before you deleted the tweet that will never, ever go away. That’s just how the internet works.
This absolutely applies to content writing as well. Emails, for example, don’t have an edit button once you hit send. If you made a mistake, you cannot take that email back.
Blogs and online articles do have an edit button, but once someone reads an error, possibly takes a screenshot, the damage is already done. Even if you fix the error, you’ll likely have to include a retraction.
Twitter is all about interacting with other users. Retweet, reply, like — just join the conversation. Know what people are saying and what they’re liking.
Keep up-to-date with your content writing, too. You could be the next Hemingway, but no one will care that your writing is polished if your topic is disengaged from the larger conversation, or just plain uninteresting.
So, thank you Twitter. To some you’re a megaphone, to others, you’re a place to follow celebrities, but beneath it all, you’re a masterclass in communication.
Topics: social media marketing
Jenna is a content writer at Stratus Interactive and is currently a graduate student studying for her M.A. in professional writing at Chatham University. She started blogging as an angsty high schooler and wrote and developed a blog as her capstone project for her undergraduate degree in English. Now she gets to do it as a job! See all Jenna Enright's posts.