How to Communicate in 140 Characters to Market on Twitter - dummies

How to Communicate in 140 Characters to Market on Twitter

By Shiv Singh, Stephanie Diamond

Possibly the most challenging part of marketing on Twitter is the 140-character limit. This amount may seem like a lot at first — until you try to post something pithy or clever and realize you can’t fit everything you want to say. Once you start deleting characters, your sentence can lose all meaning.

Don’t fret, and, whatever you do, don’t break out the text speak. Brevity is easier than you think.


You may notice that a lot of people use shortened words, such as “u” instead of “you” or “2” instead of “too” or “to.” The problem is that using acronyms or abbreviations is unprofessional and hurts people’s eyes. Ditto running words together to fit them in the space. A good general rule is that if people can’t read your sentence at first glance, you’ll lose them.

Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your 140 characters:

  • Make every word count. Use words that show an action or make an impact. Avoid filler words, such as “that.”

  • Use short words when at all possible. Try short, eye-catching words over larger words. Just about every “big” word has a shorter counterpart.

  • Punctuation matters. You may be tempted to skip your periods and commas in order to fit in more characters. Run-on sentences don’t look very pretty, and they’re hard to read. Do your best to use proper grammar and punctuation.

  • Use humor. Do you know what gets lots of retweets and responses? A funny tweet. That isn’t to say every post needs to be slapstick, but don’t be afraid to say something funny now and again. Your community will enjoy it.

  • Get to the point. Don’t take the scenic route; get right to the point. You have only 140 characters to work with, so say what you have to say without mincing words.

  • Grammar counts. Don’t use poor grammar because it fits the tweet better. Grammatical errors turn people off from wanting to do business with you because they feel you’re unprofessional.

  • Use both upper- and lowercase. All uppercase letters make people feel as if you’re yelling at them, and all lowercase letters looks as if you’re too lazy to hit the Shift key. Make a good impression by rocking the upper- and lowercases.

  • Give value. Being silly and fun on Twitter is okay, and it’s fine to say something frivolous as well. Just be sure to add value into the mix. If you’re using Twitter to promote your business, share your expertise as well.

  • Don’t always make it about you. Don’t make every tweet about you or your business. Visit with your community. Participate in other conversations, ask questions, and share links to other people’s stuff.

  • Don’t break up your tweets. Be careful dividing up tweets to continue a thought. So many people will see only the first or second half of the tweet and have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.

  • It’s okay to use characters. Even though text speak is discouraged, feel free to replace the word “and” with an ampersand. Replacing a word with an accepted character isn’t considered unprofessional.

Before you get started with tweets, research other brands that are having success using Twitter and observe how they’re interacting with their communities. You may come away from the experience with some good ideas for interacting with your own communities.