An exercise and tips for compiling a great Tweet

You know 140 characters isn’t a lot of space to be conveying a long message, so sticking to one issue and point in each Tweet is key. Don’t forget, including a link always gives more information so the talent is to try and get the audience interested enough to click on the link, reply, or take another action.

Remember - One Tweet = One fact or point

What are you Tweeting for, remember? So in as few words as possible state what you want to say. I’ll use an example to get going.

  1. The message. For example, I found a great article on evolutionary microbiology which describes new life at the bottom of the sea at hydrothermal vents.
    • Now I ask myself, do I want to incite a lively debate, friendly conversation, or just tell people the news?
  2. Hashtags. Upon deciding my point, I decide on my hashtags. I want to reach more than my followers but I also want to indicate, within the Tweet, the intended audience and topic.
    • It’s usual to have at least one hashtag and sometimes up to half a dozen, but it depends how long your message is. Prioritise: The paper is about evolution and microbiology, these are long words too, but I could also pick: Biology, Science, Ocean, Sea, Species, Diversity, Discovery, Research, Hydrothermal, Extremophiles, Environment, Vents, Conservation. Basically, any word you think will grab the attention of anyone who might be interested in the topic. Some fields of research have their own hashtag so keep a look out for ones used by your network.
  3. Picture. If I didn’t have a link to a page I would consider uploading a picture of a photograph related to my message. So, for this example, if there wasn’t a link to the paper I was reading, I might take a picture of the article on my desk so people can have a reference.
    • Pictures are so easy to take on mobile devices and the Twitter mobile apps are so easy to use and even have filters and editing software built in to make your photos look even better. And, people will see Tweets more prominently if they have an image.
  4. The link. I’m sure there aren’t any people out there who’d type it out, but even when cutting and pasting links errors can occur, so make sure the link works by cutting and pasting in a new browser window first.
    • Share buttons are common now both on web pages and from mobile device applications. Share buttons usually automatically assign a message to the Tweet so you don’t have to think of a message and sometimes add a mention to a Twitter account, usually the person or company who wrote the content. There is an option to edit the post too, and through this process one learns general formatting of Tweets:
  5. Formatting. Message, link, handles, hashtags.
    • Always start with the message, then if you’re mentioning someone in a Tweet, put their handle either within the message or at the end. I am in the habit of doing this, before the hashtags, so it doesn’t detract from the message. It’s important that Tweets should be read as quickly as possible and be identified for what they are, often by their hashtags, but converting words within a message into hashtags makes the message very difficult to read so do this sparingly.
  6. Checking your Tweet. Once the Tweet is composed I read it through at least twice; once to make sure there are no spelling mistakes, and a second to make sure it makes sense.
    • The initial message can go through a lot of editing in order to keep under the 140 character limit so one can easily change the meaning of the message by the end of the editing process. It gets easier with time.

Quick writing tips:

  • Add the link and picture first – in this way you know how much space you have left for your message and hashtags instead of having to heavily edit after you’ve added the link and/or photo
  • Use positives – People want to read about Great, Amazing, and Good things, so whenever possible make your Tweets sound exciting.
  • Keep to around 110 characters – if you want replies and have used up all your characters responders will have to edit before replying, since your username is also going to be included as a part of the reply.

(This blog is excerpt taken from Twitter for Academics – coming soon)

Please add more tips and share how you form a Tweet in the comments below.


About Dr Jojo Scoble

Freelance Science Communicator. Microbiology PhD Oxon. Fiction Writer. Social Media dilettante. Ideas Factory.
This entry was posted in academia, blogging, Twitter and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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