How-Tu Tuesday: Mastering The Art Of Being Concise

Picture for Rene Looper Rene Looper

January 19th 2016

Waffling on is something most of us are guilty of doing. However, when it comes to the online world and social media in particular, it’s important to get your message across in the most concise way possible.

This is especially true of social media platforms like Twitter with only 140 characters (although rumoured to be increasing to somewhat more), and Instagram which cuts off a long post with users having to click to read the rest. With so much content being published on the Internet every minute of every day, it is key for a brand’s message to stand out and be communicated in the most effective way, so that people want to read it and more importantly, retain the information they have just read.

Below are three simple character-reducing tips to be aware of when curating your social posts …

1. Hashtags

Hashtags are the most effective way to save on characters and are one of the reasons why they are so widely used in the two platforms mentioned above: Twitter and Instagram. Their main purpose is to allow users to search for conversations on specific topics, whether that be a sporting event, an awards show on TV, a news topic or something related to the industry you work in. People can see instantly what is being said about their topic of choice in real time and can of course join in by tagging their post with the relevant hashtag.

For those looking to be concise, hashtags are also a good way to reduce characters but still communicate exactly what you want to say; the post itself may not give away a huge amount of information, but using the appropriate hashtags instantly lets the reader know what your message is about. You can also use hashtags in the middle of your posts; they don’t have to be repeated at the end, which again saves on characters. However, be careful not to overdo the use of hashtags as it can make your post look cluttered and hard to read.  We recommend no more than 3.

2. Abbreviations

When writing a letter, an email or a report, people take care to use proper grammar and the correct spelling. However, although this can be important for posting on Facebook and LinkedIn, the rules on grammar and spelling are much more lax when it comes to Twitter (people are understanding of that 140 character limit).

There are a number of ways to reduce characters by using certain terms and punctuation, including:

  • Using the ampersand sign (&) whenever you use the word “and”
  • Always use figures when writing numbers
  • Shorten words where possible, eg “you are” to “you’re”
  • Remove words altogether, but only in cases where the post still makes sense and the message is still clear

Although these tips only reduce posts by a few characters, its often the case that tweets are only over by single digits, so using abbreviations will help you hit 140 or less much more often (and less frustratingly)!

3. Use of Media

If you are finding it difficult to get your message across in 140 characters, you’ll be pleased to hear that there are other ways to say more without necessarily using more of those precious letters. Although links and images do use characters themselves (a link uses 23 characters and an image uses 24 characters), they can provide a lot more information than the text alone in your tweet or Instagram post, and this can also apply to Facebook and LinkedIn.  As the saying goes, ‘a picture paints a thousand words’ and it’s of then the case that ‘less is more’.

You could link to a website with more details about the subject you are talking about or attach an image which could be in the form of a chart or infographic which again, gives additional, but just as important information to support your post.

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