17 Ways 2 Make Ur Tweets Shorter

June 2, 2011 •

If you’ve ever been frustrated by trying to cut those last few characters out of a tweet so you can send away, this post is for you. It’s hard enough to cut tweets to the general 140 character limit, much less the recommended 120 characters or less needed to leave room for others to retweet you, so I created this guide to help.

There’s plenty of general advice about keeping tweets short, but without specific examples, rules such as “omit needless words” are hard to grasp. Thus, I’ve searched Right Source Marketing’s tweets, my own tweets, and some of our clients’ tweets to collect examples to take specific action to follow all of this general advice.  Following this advice will not only help you become a better tweeter, but in many cases, a better writer (Copyblogger’s take on this).

A note of caution: be careful not to abbreviate your tweets to the point that their meaning is warped, or totally lost. It doesn’t matter how easy to retweet you are if no one understands what you’re trying to say.

Examples 1-4:

Original: Malt-O-Meal brand cereals launches new movement 2 rethink breakfast and excess #packaging: http://prn.to/kR2owS from @PRNewswire

Characters: 128

Suggested: Malt-O-Meal cereals launches movement 2 rethink breakfast, excess #packaging: http://prn.to/kR2owS via @PRNewswire

Characters: 114

1. Get rid of “brand.”

2. “Launches new” is redundant, get rid of “new.”

3. Use a comma or &, not “and.”

4. Use “via,” not from.

Examples 5-6:

Original: Blest Plastic-to-Oil machines require just 3 kilowatts of energy to convert 8 pounds of plastic into a gallon of oil http://bit.ly/lsI2WA

Characters: 138

Suggested: Just 3 kilowatts of energy can convert 8 pounds of plastic into a gallon of oil w/ this machine: http://bit.ly/lsI2WA

Characters: 117

5. Remove unnecessary branding.

6. Put the good stuff first.

Examples 7-9:

Original: 7UP introduces new #packaging designed by “The Celebrity Apprentice” finalists Marlee Matlin, John Rich: http://bit.ly/kSeIdt

Characters: 126

Suggested: 7UP introduces #packaging designed by The Celebrity Apprentice’s Marlee Matlin, John Rich: http://bit.ly/kSeIdt

Characters: 112

7. “Introduces new” is redundant, get rid of new.

8.  Remove quotes.

9. Use apostrophes instead of words when possible.

Example 10:

Original: RT @EUBioplastics: Green packaging is leading the way: http://bit.ly/kBynsS #packaging #eco #green

Characters: 98

Suggested: RT @EUBioplastics: Green #packaging is leading the way: http://bit.ly/kBynsS #eco #green

Characters: 88

10. Integrate hashtags.

Examples 11-13:

Original: RT @EarthTechling Innovative green tech startup has won $100,000 in MIT contest w/ its garbage 2 energy solution http://bit.ly/kWdZOm

Characters: 133

Suggested: RT @EarthTechling Innovative green tech startup wins $100,000 in MIT contest w/ garbage 2 energy idea http://bit.ly/kWdZOm

Characters: 122

11. Avoid the past tense.

12. Get rid of “its.”

13. Solution can be “idea.”

Examples 14-17:

Change: Lions of Northern VA Fairfax Education Association are asking for your help to fight #hunger: http://bit.ly/mRw5gE

Characters: 115

Suggested: Lions of Northern VA Fairfax Ed. Association ask 4 your help to fight #hunger: http://bit.ly/mRw5gE

Characters: 100

14. Change “Education” to “Ed.”

15. Remove “are.”

16. Avoid gerunds (i.e., “asking”).

17. “For” can be “4.”

Take umbrage with one of our examples? Have your own to share? Please share in the comments so that we can turn this into a dynamic resource.


About the Author

The Marketing Trenches blog provides thought leadership from actual marketing practitioners, not from professional thought leaders. Designed to help business leaders make more educated marketing decisions, our insights come directly from our experience in the trenches. You can find more from Right Source on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

  • Vicki Corson

    Hi Tracy. Really liked your article and especially the examples. Much easier to show than tell. Curious why you didn’t abbreviate Association in Examples 14-17 to Assn or Assoc?

    • Thanks for reading and commenting Vicki!

      I suppose if I caught everything then it would leave nothing for people to pick up in the comments–good catch. You certainly wouldn’t want to leave off the “n” or “oc” in those abbreviations!

  • John Gross

    My $.02 – if you still have 20-30 characters to work with (examples 14-17), I wouldn’t change “for” to “4.” Even in Twitter, a sense of proper English adds more credibility if the tweet is business-related. If you’re bumping up against 140, then I understand.

    Otherwise, great tips.

    • Good point, John–I definitely agree. Same thing goes with “2” and “to,” and any shortening trick that has the potential to interfere with readability and understandability. That said, I’ll take changing a word to a number over leaving out a word that adds meaning.

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