7 Techniques to Write More Concisely in Social Media (and Why You Should)

Opinion: The bulkier your content is, the less visible it’s going to be in this kind of environment

What actionable steps can you take to make your writing more concise?
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Communication on social media requires a different set of skills than writing blogs or advertising copy. You’ll be reaching out to a different audience and using a different medium, and your messages should reflect those differences.

One key to effective social media writing is conciseness—the art of packing lots of detail, meaning or value into as few words as possible. So, why is concise writing so important in the social media sphere? And what can brands do to achieve it?

Why conciseness is so important

Conciseness is valuable in almost any medium of writing because it allows you to pack more of a punch in less space, keeping your readers’ attention while giving them as much as possible. But it’s especially important in social media for the following reasons:

  • Space: When Twitter first emerged, the upper limit of its posts was 140 characters. That limit has since increased to 280 characters. On Facebook, once you reach a certain post size, audiences will only be able to read the full text if they click “Read More.” The fact is, you only have so much space to work with, so the more concisely you communicate, the easier it will be to conform to these standards.
  • Impatient audiences: Social media users tend to want real-time updates and responses as quickly as possible. They don’t have the patience to put up with a long-winded post or message. If you write too much, you could lose their attention.
  • Organic reach: Facebook and other social media platforms are gradually reducing the organic reach of company and organization pages in an effort to provide more relevant content to users. The bulkier your content is, the less visible it’s going to be in this kind of environment.

How to write more concisely

So, what actionable steps can you take to make your writing more concise?

  1. Use metaphors and illustrations: Instead of describing a process in full, try using a metaphor or anecdotal example to illustrate your point. For example, you could use Legos as an example to illustrate the building blocks of a value-based-care program. Just don’t let your metaphor get out of hand, or you’ll end up writing more than you bargained for.
  2. Rely on visuals: Currently, video content represents nearly three-quarters of all internet traffic, and that figure may grow even further. Social media users love visuals, and visuals are naturally concise. Posting a single image or a single video may allow you to transmit thousands of words of information, all without cluttering anyone’s News Feed.
  3. Cut filler words: Weasel words (like “many,” “really,” or “could be”) are never necessary and almost always water down the point you’re trying to make. If you’re used to using them in everyday conversation, they can be hard to spot and remove, but if you can master this skill, you could cut the volume of your message by one-quarter and lose no valuable content.
  4. Use abbreviations (but sparingly): If you’re running against a character limit, or you want to decrease the amount of space your message takes up, consider using abbreviations to shorten some of your longer words. Of course, you’ll need to exercise restraint here—if you abbreviate too much with messages like “r u here 4 the event,” your brand could come off as immature, and your message could get lost in translation.
  5. Only tease your most important content: Let the content on your main site do the heavy lifting. Link to it, and only include a brief tease about what kind of information or entertainment awaits your followers. It only takes a sentence or two, and your interested users will be more than willing to click the link to learn more.
  6. Consider including emojis: There’s a reason why emojis are being studied as a potential marker of the future of language. Emojis are capable of transmitting complex thoughts and feelings in the span of a single character. As long as they fit your brand voice, try to use them.
  7. Split bulky ideas: If you find that your message is too bulky even after trying these tactics, it’s a sign that your idea should be split in two. It’s often better to make two brief updates than one gigantic one.

It may take some practice before you can write concisely on a consistent basis. After all, most of us are used to the freedom and flexibility of conversational writing styles. However, once you’ve mastered these tactics, there will be no going back. Your social media posts and messages will be more valuable than ever before, yet will still take up less space on your followers’ newsfeeds. It’s a level of efficiency we should all commit to achieving.

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.