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Keep it short and tweet

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Twitter teaches us to be succinct. Say it all in 140 characters.

But the best tweets are much shorter. Why?

Good tweets grab us quickly. They fit our short attention window, which is about 9 seconds or 23 words, the average length of a sound bite in news media.

Most important, short tweets are easier to share.

Compared with most tweets, a full 140 characters looks long. Long tweets are harder to share. A study shows that tweets of 41 to 100 characters get retweeted most often.

To make tweets easy to share, hold their length to 100 characters. To do that:
  • Cut unneeded words
  • Skip articles "a" and "the" unless they're needed
  • Use a comma splice instead of "and" (a headline writer's trick, condemned by Strunk & White)
  • Circle words of more than 2 syllables; replace them with simpler words
  • Use sentence fragments
  • Shorten links with bitly.com
  • Why take these shortcuts? Because when you conserve characters, you make retweeting easier.

    When I retweet your tweet, I need to add my name @riverwordguy and RT (retweet), MT (modified tweet) or via (retweet). So I need at least 16 characters.

    If I add a #hashtag to make the tweet easier to find, or a comment about your tweet, I'll need even more characters.

    So leave some room. Keep tweets at 100 characters or fewer. Stay simple and clear.

    If your tweet is 140 characters long and it links to brilliant content, I might take the time to edit and shorten it. But I might not.

    Twitter has become the world's ultimate headline-writing contest. Keep 'em short. That's the path to retweets.

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