Short and tweet

Short, concise messaging can be a powerful tool and a clear example of this can be seen on Twitter. Users have a maximum of 140 characters to write what they want to say – the perfect length for today’s busy web users.

140 characters is not much to make your voice heard. However, when you do want to say something on Twitter it is important to take the time to choose every word carefully. This is a skill that a lot of us have had to re-learn. We have become used to whizzing off a quick e-mail here, a text message there (and nobody minds the odd typo), and all for free. It was not so long ago that to write a letter we needed a pen, some nice paper, an envelope and even a stamp. And if you misspelt something you would have to start all over again, so it was best to take your time and concentrate on what you were writing.

Like in the good old days of letter-writing, to post a tweet you need to focus on the task in hand (although luckily Twitter does give us the option of deleting an incorrect tweet and starting again without wasting paper). Nevertheless, when we are tweeting, and especially when we are translating our tweets into different languages, we must make sure they are word-perfect. For tweets in foreign languages it’s best to focus on conveying the tone and meaning in your 140-character message, rather than going for a literal translation. Otherwise the tweet will sound robotic and uninteresting. We always recommend using a native speaker for your tweets (especially the funny ones), so that you are effectively engaging with your audience.

The recipient of a letter might have forgiven the odd spelling mistake, but nowadays your tweets are reaching out to hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of followers, who not only have less time to re-read a tweet they don’t immediately understand, but who can look at any one of the 400 million (!) tweets that are posted every day for their information rush.

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