Tweet this: Simple and short

Posted on Jan 25, 2017 in Communications

twitter birdI admit it. I’m a Twitter junkie.

I. Am. Hooked.

That little blue bird links me to world news, business trends, entertainment, and my political and social interests. The key value of Twitter is its limited character count. It forces writers to be direct.

With each Tweet below, you know exactly what you’re getting:

“Uber is your ride to everywhere. Get the app and get around easier”

“Change weak or less clear verbs to strong ones… change “receive notice” to “notify”

“What you need to know before the AI robot uprising”

“Share your best photo w/#LLBeanWinterContest for a chance to win a $50 gift card!”

“Turkey identifies suspect in nightclub attack”

“20 most popular TED Talks of all time…have you seen them all?”

“How to fight fake news and misinformation? Research helps point the way”

“Top 10 happy environmental stories of 2016”

“The people who pushed for the 401(k) plans are now worried about the consequences of their creation”

“These climate change truths are much worse than inconvenient”

Lessons learned
The examples share common traits you can apply to writing beyond Twitter. The work that makes these Tweets good can improve headlines and body copy, too.

  • Simple nouns
    • The app
    • Robot
    • Climate change
  • Simple verbs
    • Get
    • Fight
    • Share
  • Simple subject-verb construction
    • Uber is
    • Turkey identifies
    • People pushed
  • Direct address
    • What you need
    • Your best photo
    • Have you seen
  • No clauses
    • Clauses can work. Just be sure they don’t mess with clarity. This Tweet is clear:
      • “Under new rules, ethics office wouldn’t be free to speak publically, get anonymous tips, report crimes, be independent”

Share the joy
Twitter isn’t meant to produce great literature. Twitter is a service that delivers functional utility to busy people. Busy people value simplicity and clarity. I know I do.


BrianBerkenstockAbout the author: Brian Berkenstock is a Center for Plain Language Board Member, and Director of Content Strategy at bswift, an Aetna company.