Twitter Style Guide

Posted on June 19th 2009

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Just like print media and even blog posts, Twitter should have a style guide.  There are some tweets that I will never read because they just look plain ugly.

Many people tweet just for the sake of sharing what's on their mind.  But if you truly want to call attention to what you're writing, especially if you are promoting a corporate or personal brand, here's a simple guide to help make your tweets “legible”:

  • Use appropriate sentence case (please — this is a huge pet peeve). Typing in all lower case doesn't gain you any extra characters.  And unless you're fighting for space, use proper grammar.

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  • Give a brief description, or better yet, a teaser of what we're about to see.  Think of it as a movie trailer, and you want people to follow-thru to the link.  Similarly, don't just post a link.

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  • Know what you're sharing. Simply tweeting a blog post or article title may not always be the best description.  Demonstrate that you've read what you're recommending, by summarizing it creatively, and to fit your audience.

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  • Avoid multiple RTs (retweets). Simply RT the person you source.  If someone is interested in seeing who the original source is, they can click on to the person you retweeted, or do a Twitter Search of the phrase or link.  At some point, too may @usernames in a single tweet just becomes name-dropping.

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  • Via @username is OK.  You don't have to RT everything.  Resummarize it in your own words, then give credit at the end.

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  • Use hashtags (#) appropriately, and sparingly.  Hashtags make it easy to search for topics, but they're most valuable when you want to join a conversation.  Multiple hashtags in one tweet causes for clutter too.

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  • Leave enough space to be retweeted.  Somewhere between 15-20 spare characters will leave room for most all usernames.

And most importantly, if you're representing an organization (or even yourself), if you want to get the most out of Twitter, interact with people who RT you or those twitterers that you find interesting.  It's amazing to see what kind of conversations you might get into, and more importantly, what you'll learn!

For a blog posting “style guide”, read 5 Rules for Blogging.

Follow me @SherryMain.  

Updated: Thanks to @zkiraly and @faseidl.  Photo credit: Delgrosso


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Comments

Sherry, these are excellent guidelines; I agree with all of them.  But I have one nitpick to raise (which I couch as a sixth guideline):

  • Don't keyword stuff. Don't use inaccurate or misleading hashtags like #followfriday when the content has nothing to do with the hashtag. Doing is really a form of spam, even if the content is valuable in another context.
@Andy  Touché!  I stand corrected :).
Sherry, I really did only mean it as a nitpick and not a jab.  (But it is a good tip for folks. ;-)