Feature: Tweet Success

Twitter to Reduce Some Tweets to 117 Characters

Author: Adi Gaskell
Published: February 20, 2013 at 8:13 am

twitter linksThat Twitter has a limit of 140 characters is part of the modern lexicon.  So it's a pretty big deal that this is about to change, at least for certain tweets.

Starting today, they will be reducing the character limit for any tweet containing a hyperlink to just 118 characters, or 117 characters for https links.

The move was first announced back in December but is finally being rolled out today.  The change is due to a shift in how the Twitter url shortener t.co will work.  This will mean the maximum link length will go from 20 characters to 22, and 21 to 23 characters for https links.

All of which basically means that links will take up a bit more space, leaving you with less room to write your message.

Of course, the best evidence suggests you shouldn't need that many characters.  Research from MIT last year revealed that the best tweets contained less than 70 characters.  They found these get retweeted twice as often as normal.

Here are ten tips on how to get more retweets.

10 ways to get retweets

  1. Use <70 characters.  Tweets of less than 70 characters were retweeted twice as often as normal.  The message is clear.  Leave room for people to both retweet you and add in their username and/or comment.
  2. Grab their attention.  Remember the old AIDA acronym?  Get their attention early on in your tweet.  Attention grabbing openings were retweeted 40% more often.
  3. Ask for the retweet.  This is always something I've shied away from.  Bit naff isn't it?  It works though.  A simple RT request saw 34% more retweets.
  4. Reveal the inner you.  People tend to follow people on Twitter to hear the real them, not a corporate mouthpiece.  Content that humanizes the user is retweeted 70% more often.
  5. Share your success.  If you've achieved a notable win, share it on Twitter.  The research shows that people tend to enjoy this, with retweets up 29% for celebratory tweets. 
  6. Help people.  This one seems more obvious.  If you give people things they can use, then they retweet it 51% more often than normal.
  7. Save them money.  Everyone loves to save money, so giving people deals etc. is a great way to generate retweets.  Tweets containing deals were shared 16% more than normal.
  8. Be relevant.  Things age uber quickly on the web, so make sure what you tweet about is relevant.  Topical tweets are shared 41% more often than normal.
  9. Wet the appetite.  If you can create a sense of anticipation you're 24% more likely to get a retweet.
  10. Power combos.  What's interesting is that if you can combine some of these into a single tweet your retweet power is supercharged.  Can you reveal the inner you whilst sharing a success story?  How about grabbing attention with a money saving offer?

Continued on the next page

About this article

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Article Author: Adi Gaskell

A writer on management issues for publications such as Professional Manager, CMI, HRM Today, Business Works and Technorati. I also cover social media for Social Media Today, DZone and Social Business News.

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