Getting a re-tweet (RT) on Twitter not only feels pretty good but can go a long way to driving more traffic to your blog or website (or anywhere else that you care to recommend).
Problems can occur if your tweet is too long for the reader to comfortably RT. You have to remember that each RT automatically adds a string of characters to your original tweet. These include the length of your username, and five additional characters: the ‘RT’, the space after that, the ‘@’ symbol before your name, and the space afterwards.
RT_@Sheamus_The original tweet goes in here...
If you stretch your tweet out too close to the maximum 140 characters, the re-tweeter will often have to perform some crafty editing to ensure your name and those other essential characters fit within the limit of their tweet. This can be undesirable for you; because of this, sometimes key nuances and tone can be lost and occasionally your links can be accidentally edited or changed.
There’s an easy formula you can learn that takes the pain out of ensuring your tweet has a good chance of an RT and makes it a lot easier for your followers to handle.
First, I have to shock you. Despite what Twitter says, your maximum tweet length is not 140 characters.
Your Maximum Tweet Length = 135 – [length of your username]
(Why 135 characters and not Twitter’s maximum 140? Because of those five we looked at above.)
For example, my username is seven characters in length. So, to ensure that I have a better chance of being re-tweeted I can observe the formula above and work out that my maximum tweet length is 128 characters. Not 140. If I go above 128, it means that anyone kind enough to re-tweet my original submission needs to edit it.
(It’s about now that users with enormous 20-30 character usernames are really starting to feel the pinch.)
Now, Twitter.com and many Twitter clients (like TweetDeck) tell you how many characters you have remaining, so we need to subtract the number you got above from 140. That’s your number.
Your Number = 140 – [135 – length of your username]
or, more simply
Your Number = length of username + five characters
For me, my number is 12, determined by (140-[135-7]) or 7+5, whichever you prefer. When I see my character remaining count drop down to that, I know I need to stop and/or do some creative editing myself.
(Note: this won’t help with re-tweets of re-tweets, nor can you really attempt to account for that, because there’s no way to determine the length of the re-tweeter’s username. Re-tweets of re-tweets nearly always require ninja-level editing.)
Memorise your number. Think about it. Dream about it. Make it part of your very being. And if your Twitter update deserves it, you’ve now given yourself every chance of an RT.