Twitter has a limitation of 140 characters per tweet. However by using a few techniques and/or services you would be surprised at how much you can cram into this small space! So lets get started!

Learning “small talk”

To consistently get your tweets under 140 characters, you need to understand the concept of compressing your thoughts. This requires you to leverage one or more of the following:

  • Understanding Less is more.
  • Liberal use of abbreviations.
  • Spelling isn’t as important as you think.
  • 3rd party services.

Less is More!

You can’t get “wordy” in tweets.   It takes up to much valuable space.   Lets use the following as an example:

Long — For what it’s worth, I would really like to go with you to the store. (69 characters).

Short — Let’s go to the store. (22 characters).

A silly example, but it shows that being wordy can be “costly”. Both messages say the same thing — but the second takes 47 less characters.

Leverage  abbreviations

If you have used text messaging on your phone, the concept here is identical. For those not familiar with the concept, there are a variety of  commonly used “shortcuts” — some examples (and the characters saved) are:

  • u — you    (2 characters saved).
  • 4 — for  (2 characters saved).
  • FWIW — For What It’s Worth (13 characters saved).
  • ROFLMAO — Rolling On the Floor Laughing My Ass Off  (32 characters saved).

A comprehensive list is available at:

http://www.webopedia.com/quick_ref/textmessageabbreviations.asp

Spelling isn’t as important as you think

Let’s start with the following illusion:

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdgnieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid. Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer inwaht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? Yaeh and I awlyas thought slpeling was ipmorantt!

While it’s unlikely that you are going to know every abbreviation, you don’t always need to spell out every word. And since your spelling isn’t being graded, dropping characters isn’t always a bad thing. So don’t sweat the misspellings (which could become mispelings — get the idea?).

3rd Party Services

This gets a little advanced, but it demonstrates the value 3rd party services are bringing to the table. Let’s say you wanted to tweet the weather forecast for New York City. If you go to weather.com and look up the weather, it will use the following URL:

http://www.weather.com/weather/today/New+City+NY+USNY0981?lswe=new%20york%20city&from=searchbox_localwx

This would consume 103 characters to tweet! Believe it or not, you can shrink this considerably with something known as a URL shortening service! Since there are a number of options in this space, I will focus on a popular one called   http://bit.ly/ (which by the way is free!)

If you go to the bit.ly site and enter in the 103 character string for weather.com, bit.ly will return the following:

http://bit.ly/7zMoKx

What bit.ly did is take the URL and generated a 20 character version of the URL! Both of these web addresses will get you to the same site, one is just a lot shorter. (I won’t go into the painful details of how it works, but trust me it works).

Different Twitter clients (i.e. Tweetdeck) have integrated this functionality for you (and do it automatically without having to go to the bit.ly). But the benefit is that you now have room to include your comments in your tweet so your followers can understand why you thought it was important.

That’s it for “small talk” — hope you found it interesting! (and yes — more is coming!).

And as a convenience for those reading this for the first time — links to my recent blog entries in the Twitter series: