The written word, at its best, does many things. Informs, persuades, motivates, brings laughter or tears . . . and that’s just the short list. It takes readers places they’ve never been, connects them to those they’ve never met, and puts them center-stage at events that may or may not have taken place in the past, present, or future.
Great writing is rarely produced by most of us, and that’s OK. We’re not out to be best-selling authors and are more likely searching for business impact by sharing ideas with audiences of value. With social media and networks, its never been easier to publish.
The increased number of outlets for our words comes with a price, however, and it’s the short attention span of the readers we desire most. We now live in the 140-character world — equal to the previous sentence — of Twitter, which demands McNugget-sized bites of copy heavy on abbreviations and light on punctuation. #thestruggleisreal, dear readers.
Still, not everything about the social site, which passed 500 million accounts in May of this year, would make your old school teachers squirm. Tweets require their authors to incorporate writing strategies that should be utilized regardless of who is being communicated to and in what manner:
- Brevity is always best – Constantly edit copy to delete any extraneous words or thoughts that don’t support the main idea.
- Have a strategy – Is it to inform, educate, or share a point-of-view? What’s the call to action?
- Know the audience – What motivates readers and/or why should they care?
- Tailor writing for different formats – One size never fits all.
- Maximize the opportunity – What’s the next step that would lead to a real connection?
140 characters may not be nearly enough to say what you want, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t lessons it can teach us.
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