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Anatomy of a Tweet: how do you say #140?

01/14/2011

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What are you doing?
Twitter (2008)

The original dashboard prompted this simple question every time Twitter’s early adapters logged on.

Moving sidewalk visa Flickr

No Time for Baby Steps!

Stepping into the Twitter world was daunting to me as a copywriter who polished, presented, and revised copy to its branded, ok-to-print glory.

Yet, under my social-media anxiety, lurked an ever greater editorial challenge: syntax. How can you answer this question with grammatical precision and still engage your readers?

Now, with business-casual ease, here’s my #140 response to Twitter’s engaging question. I’m:

Sharing content, links, news, and views of all things marketing. Engaging, enhancing, and empowering the Web 2.0 world of marketing pros.

As part of my overall business and social media plan, Twitter would provide a real-time 140-stream of my consulting process. Overtly, each tweet would help build marketing relationships by engaging new colleagues and potential clients. How so? Implicitly, my tweets would demonstrate a highly conversational writing style. This organic partnership of content and context works quite well for building a focused, dedicated community that’s highly interactive.

A visualization of  Twitter vernacular

I went back to English writing basics to examine how Tweets were parsed (i.e., structured). I studied how others tweeted and evolved a simple template to convey information that was lively, direct, and — most importantly — easy to act on. Here’s what it looks like, in the Twitterverse.

anatomy of a tweet, parsing

Anatomy of a tweet

  • Tweet simply to improve your re-tweet-ability.

Short, sweet content is easy to absorb and visually engages the reader to reply or retweet (i.e., repost). That doesn’t mean a scrambled text message, but a phrase that conveys the most with the fewest characters.

  • Add hashtag keywords to put your message in context.

Hashtags have become a tele- and visio-pathic norm. If you create a short message, the right hashtag creates the context and gets the word out to key readers. This includes those who follow you directly as well as those who follow a common hashtag.  Tags definitely enhance meaning and provide a valuable bridge to the next step — measurable response from your readers.

  • Place your urls and calls-to-action at the end of your Tweet.

This functional bit of advice ensures that your links are functional. Links at the end of a message are also highly usable and provide the best Web experience. That’s something that  interactive marketing pros (like me) have done for years.

If you haven’t caught on already, you can simply look to the right column and sample some of my latest tweets to see how it all fits together.

What’s your experience of successful tweeting?

Do you find there’s a practical method or do you follow an off-the-cuff style popular with many marketing pundits.  Do you use rating services to evaluate and cultivate a Twitter style? Please post your comments here, bookmark this article, or share with a friend.

Photo: Αγάπη’s photostream, a flickr pro

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