by Erin Steiner
It’s the curse of Twitter: You have so much to say but very little space in which to say it. You don’t want to be one of those people who floods Twitter with a stream of tweets to say all of the things you have to say. That makes you look like you’re ranting! Instead, you look at your message and think: “Okay, how can I shorten this up?”
Written-out numbers are the first to get turned into their numerical counterparts. Next to go are any words that can use single symbols instead. “And” becomes “&.” “At” becomes “@.” After this, you shorten words to their initials. “Because” becomes “b/c” and “With” and “Without” become “w/” and “w/o” respectively.
Even after all of that, your tweet is still too long! This is when you will be tempted to toss all the rules of grammar and spelling out the window. You shorten “your” to “ur,” “ate” to “8,” etc. And suddenly, your eloquent messages goes from this:
“Hi everybody! Just wanted to let you know that you can get your favorite eBook for fifty percent off today and today only! You know you don’t want to miss that! Get your copy now!”
“Hi peeps! U can get ur fave ebk 4 50% off today & today only! U no u don’t wanna miss it! Get urs now!”
And you’ve effectively made yourself look like a gossipy tween. Your message is lost in its obnoxious delivery.
This is because grammar matters! It’s a subtle thing, but your brain truly does notice when a comma is placed where a comma doesn’t belong. When your brain encounters bad grammar (or, worse, “text speak”), it gets twitchy because it has to try to read and solve a puzzle at the same time. Puzzles are only fun when you do them on purpose.
Remember: How you present yourself matters. Even overly abbreviated tweets can have a negative effect on your online reputation. The last thing you want is to make yourself look like you can’t spell or use grammar properly.
So what do you do? How do you get the message across without spamming your followers?
Using our previous example, why not shorten it to this:
“Hey everybody! Today ONLY: Get 50% off your favorite eBooks! Don’t miss out!”
Sure, it’s a little heavy on the exclamation points, but that’s better than the alternative, isn’t it?
If you truly have a lot to say on a topic, consider writing out your thoughts on your blog and then posting a link to that blog post on Twitter. This way you get more traffic to your blog, you get to thoroughly elaborate your thoughts on your chosen topic, you don’t risk alienating your followers, and you don’t risk making it look like your seventh-grade cousin’s gossipy best friend took over your Twitter feed.
It’s a win all around!
Erin Steiner is an avid tweeter and freelance writer from Portland, Oregon.