Twitter: the long and the short of it

Twitter has doubled is character count – and halved the fun

I’m rather disappointed with Twitter. Although not an overly frequent visitor to the Twitter-sphere (at least by some people’s standards,) I did enjoy the challenge of getting my message into 140 characters.

Now Twitter has doubled the character count to 280, all the fun seems to have gone out of it. In this digital age, where we are told people simply scan online text and don’t read it properly, a 140-character Tweet was somewhat fitting.

Now? Well, now a Tweet can be virtually the length of an essay. In fact, it’s somewhat longer than my teenage son’s essays, but that’s another story …

Of course, this is an exaggeration and I haven’t hung up my Twitter account in protest. But there is a lot to be said for being brief in your copy, and writing 140-character Tweets was a great way of honing this skill.

 

Copywriting: keep it short and sweet

 

When I was training in journalism, I recall my tutors saying it took more skill to be a reporter for The Sun than for The Times. Why? Because it is far harder to get all the information a story requires – the who, what, where, when, why and how – into a few paragraphs than it is into the story length of a broadsheet. OK, the Times is no longer a broadsheet, but it was then and it still carries far longer stories than its News UK stablemate.

So when copywriting, keep it short, sweet and simple. George Orwell had six rules of writing, including:

  • Never use a long word where a short one will do
  • If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

Wise words, and ones which we’d all do well to adhere to. Twitter may now allow more characters, but don’t feel obliged to use them!

If you need help with copywriting for websites, blogs, brochures, social media posts – including Tweets – or any other form of business writing, please get in touch with me, Jo Smyth, of Word Worker.