When you first join Twitter one of the rules that’s drummed into you from the very beginning is that status updates on the platform come with a limit of 140 characters.
This can seem restrictive at first, especially if you’re used to Facebook and its now unlimited character ceiling. But after a little while, and with practice, you learn to write good, strong and concise Twitter copy, always ensuring that you modify the words in your tweets to make sure they fit nicely within that 140-character maximum. You don’t resort to text speak, but you do know that you shouldn’t use a long word when a shorter one will work just as well.
But there’s a problem: you’re not getting many retweets. Why?
Answer: because you’re not leaving enough space.
Here’s the thing: yes, tweets have a 140-character limit, but if you use up all of those characters each and every time then you will drastically reduce the odds that somebody will choose to retweet your submissions.
In November 2009, Twitter went live with its controversial internal retweet functionality, which allowed users to quickly share anything published to Twitter with one click of a button. However, this new mechanism didn’t allow any kind of annotation of tweets, which meant that users were unable to amend or add comments to retweets. This is still true today, and it has meant that Twitter’s internal retweet has not been as widely adopted as the company might have liked. Indeed, many influencers and Twitter veterans steadfastly refuse to ever use this kind of retweet.
It’s these people you need to be mindful of, as the old-hands of Twitter are often the people who get your tweets out there and in front of the desired eyeballs. But if people have to edit your tweet to make it short enough for them to add their thoughts – or even just to fit in the RT @username part – you will suffer one of two mishaps: either they’ll have to modify your tweet so much that all the good stuff is gone, or they simply will not bother retweeting you at all.
So, here’s the solution: all tweet copy should be written in 100 characters or less.
These leaves you 40 blank characters at the end of your tweet – 20 of which can be used for a shortened URL (i.e., bit.ly) and 20 that will be kept spare to give people enough space for a retweet.
This also means that if you share your blog posts or website content on Twitter, then all of your article titles should be 100 characters or less.
As a working example, you see the title of this blog post? It’s 97 characters.
Assuming your content warrants a retweet, I guarantee that this system will dramatically increase how often your content is shared (and re-shared) on Twitter.
100 characters. Or less. Every tweet. Every time.
It’s a habit worth getting into.