Say More With Less on Twitter

NSF_LessIsMore

You’ve caught the content fever. You’re tweeting, blogging, posting, pinning, and anything else you can think of to get your message out there. Take a step back and evaluate; is your message reaching the people you’re targeting?

If you’re happy with who’s responding and how often, then keep doing what works for you. If you’d rather you have a few more leads rather than a few more Re-pins, then a change may be right.

The good news is, even if your social media work needs an overhaul, we propose you do less. You already know the maximum restrictions each platform imposes, but do you know the maximum your viewer is actually going to read? It’s likely a lot less than you think.

Start with Twitter. With only 140 characters to work with, you may be feeling a bit constrained already. But the truth is, you should cut out at least 40 more characters. Studies show the highest engagement comes from tweets 71-100 characters or less.

Why the shortness? Because twitter is a conversation platform. The 140 character restriction is not on what you say, but on what the entire conversation is. Let’s demonstrate on what is likely a normal tweet for many real estate agents.

“I just listed a great single family house! 3 Bed, 2 Bath Click this link to get all the details http://ow.ly/vP1Kk http://ow.ly/vP1Kk “ – 134 characters, including link and photo

It sounds good. It’s simple, conveys excitement, includes a great photo, as well as a call to action. Notice that the link is 22 characters, as is the photo, giving us only 98 characters with which to actually say something, but it seems we managed well.

Here’s where we run into trouble;

One of your followers, let’s call him Johnny, sees the photo and thinks the house looks fabulous. He decides to share your post with others who might be house hunting. Johnny clicks the retweet button and sees this as a draft:

“RT @Corefact: I just listed a great single family house! 3 Bed, 2 Bath Click this link to get all the details http://ow.ly/vP1Kk http://ow.ly/vP1Kk” -8

Just by clicking retweet, Johnny’s almost-post is 8 characters over the limit. Johnny could choose to spend time deleting part of what you wrote, but, more likely, he’s going to decide it’s not worth the effort. Your post almost got shared with all of Johnny’s followers, but didn’t.

At this point, we can play the numbers game. You know how long your twitter name is, so you can count the characters a RT will add. In our case, it adds 14 characters (don’t forget the colon and two spaces). So, mathematically, we just need to shorten our posts by 14 characters. We can re-attempt our original post, of course leaving in the ever critical link and photo.

“I just listed a great single family house! Click this link to get all the details http://ow.ly/vP1Kk http://ow.ly/vP1Kk” – 120 characters

Much better. We lost a little detail, but the essence is still there. This time when Johnny decides to retweet, he won’t automatically run into trouble. But that doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods.

Johnny doesn’t want to mindlessly repost, he wants to talk. He wants to explain why he’s retweeting and what he wants his followers to look at. He decides to add “I love those windows!” After he adds his thought, he’s left with this draft:

“I love those windows! RT @Corefact: I just listed a great single family house! Click this link to get all the details http://ow.ly/vP1Kk http://ow.ly/vP1Kk“ -16

Sixteen over. But Johnny really loves those windows. He figures he can shorten, so he tries again:

“Great windows! RT @Corefact: I just listed a great single family house! Click this link to get all the details http://ow.ly/vP1Kk http://ow.ly/vP1Kk” -9

The common follower might give up at this point, but not Johnny. He’s decided you have a great photo, and he will find a way to share it. He absolutely wants to include his input – this is a conversation, after all – so he opts for his other option. Delete parts of yours.

Because Johnny is not concerned with optimizing your tweet, but rather wants to share his, he’s not going to think about what is strategically the best part to delete. Instead, he’s going to take out one of the links. This means one of two things. Either Johnny has deleted your beautiful picture, almost guaranteeing no one else will be interested in this post, of he has deleted the link to your site, defeating the purpose of posting in the first place.

Now let’s test the same scenario with a much shorter tweet:

You:

“Great New Listing! All the details here: http://ow.ly/vP1Kk http://ow.ly/vP1Kk” – 79 characters

Johnny:

“I love those windows! RT @Corefact: Great New Listing! All the details here: http://ow.ly/vP1Kk http://ow.ly/vP1Kk” – 114 characters

Susie:

“Where is this? RT @Johnny I love those windows! RT @Corefact: Great New Listing! All the details here: http://ow.ly/vP1Kk http://ow.ly/vP1Kk” – 140 characters

With a single string, not only could Johnny retweet, one of his followers could re-retweet. You can now reach out to a second degree connection, answering questions and engaging more followers. A short, effective post has the potential to grow as the conversation continues.

Just like in an in-person conversation, you’d prefer not to be the only person talking. Twitter is designed to provoke responses and initiate conversations, so leaving space for responses is essential for continuing the conversation. A short, well crafted post that has a link and a striking picture is an excellent start to an exciting and productive conversation.

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