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25 January 2016

Please Twitter, keep us short and sweet

Written by: Alex Eeles, Principal Writer at Edelman

Entertainment, Media

No, Twitter, no!

Recently, it was revealed that the world’s most popular social networking site (depending on who you listen to) is considering upping its character limit from a nice and pithy 140 to a whopping 10,000. Taking an average word length of six characters, that’s a leap from around 23 per tweet to more than 1,600. It’s a bit like swapping a Post-It note for an essay paper.

Now, admittedly, it’s not a complete surprise. This is the same character limit the company uses for its Direct Messages product.

But it still upsets me.

In today’s world, verbosity is like a plague. In politics, business, even sport, words are regularly being used more intemperately than ever.

Quotes and company statements that read like a corporate automaton indiscriminately vomiting words. Interviews and social media posts that meander painfully to the point. There is simply no need. Indeed, one of my favourite current tactics for deciding whether the essence of a story is punchy enough is to try to tweet it. If it won’t fit into 140 characters, then it’s usually back to the drawing board.

Of course, conciseness should never come at the expense of talking in a way that interests and resonates with your audience. And no doubt many brands (and people) will already be licking their lips at the prospect of having so much more space to get their message across.

Yet, equally, why use 500 words when 50 will do? Or 1,600 for that matter. Reading will always be more important than writing, and communication should never be about long-winded self-indulgence.

So, this is my own personal (and concise!) plea to everyone who works in communications:  whatever happens over at Twitter, let’s keep ourselves and our clients short and sweet.

After all, if we can’t be trusted to talk clearly and concisely, who can?

Image: Annette Shaff / Shutterstock.com

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