Twitter Usage and Blogosphere Pricing


High finance pundits may argue about Twitter’s stock price, but there is no doubt in the blogosphere that the service is valuable. If you are using it merely to share your lunch choice with friends or whom you encountered while shopping, you may already be fully equipped to use the 140 characters effectively. However, if you are want to utilize this internet tool maximally, you might want to read on. Whether to inspire action or change opinion, Twitter can do so and has demonstrated its power, but it requires a bit of skill and care to accomplish this to full effect.

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Know why you are Tweeting

Twitter has been a pivotal element in the outcome of several election cycles, a few revolutions, and the burgeoning success of several celebrities. It has also speeded the downfall of some public figures. You can use it to inform swiftly, to inspire, to spur, to sell, to compel, or to deter. Think first of exactly what it is that you are trying to accomplish. A Tweet, as with any message, that has a clear purpose motivating it, will have more impact from the start.

Use the right word

The compressed format of Twitter is closer to haiku than to regular prose. As with haiku, the writer needs to find the right word for the right idea. This requires access to a solid and varied vocabulary. Ideally, this vocabulary should be at your fingertips. You should, in the best of all possible worlds, have acquired this vocabulary through years of reading the classics of literature, subscribing to literate magazines such as The Atlantic, or The New Yorker, listening to NPR, or the BBC World Service. Even if you missed the memo, there are still tools you can use. You should keep a thesaurus app or site at your elbow, in physical or virtual form. Additionally, when you do encounter a word that packs a lot of meaning, take note of it and learn to use it. The Merriam Webster Vocabulary Builder is a new favorite in this household.

Use the shortest word

This is almost like a Scrabble skill; finding shorter words that can convey the same thing as a longer one. This fits with Hemingway’s rules of writing; never use a long or Latinate word when you can substitute a short, powerful word, often with an Anglo-Saxon root. There is a source for such words on Thurs, where you can type in a long word that you want to use, and find a shorter alternative.

Condense your thoughts

Consider the novel outline, also attributed to Hemingway, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Although his authorship may be apocryphal, this gem should inspire current Twitterers. At its best, Twitter may revive the art of the epigram, that laser-focused expression of a deep, insightful, or humorous truth in very few words. The Greeks and Romans were masters of this; think of the wit of Martial. However, practitioners of terse and pithy phrase-making are found in all parts of the world and eras. Think of Ben Franklin and Mark Twain, and even Chairman Mao (“women hold up half the sky” is wonderfully evocative).

Compress via technology

You can shorten lengthy URLs (yes, sadly, each character counts!) by using, a service that redirects clicks and keeps a count of them for you as well. You can also send readers to a somewhat longer comment via Twitlonger. If a picture is worth a thousand words, send a picture with a caption, via Twitpic.

Abbreviate everything possible

There are several glossaries of text-speak acronyms and abbreviations out there, and they are helpful. However, when one examines them closely, it becomes clear how many are related to dating, sex, avoiding parental monitoring, sex, frustration with work and colleagues, sex, impatience with computer equipment and technical support, sex, video-gaming, whether massively multiplayer or on a smaller scale, and, oh, by the way, sex. These particular abbreviations are also often merely shortened versions of hackneyed phrases and clichés. As such, I am hesitant to recommend them, in the interests of avoiding polluting the Twitter-sphere with such stale linguistic tropes. Here are a few from the lists that seem most useful for Tweets with a somewhat higher purpose, such as sales, opinion modification, or a call to action:

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  • 411 information
  • 3q thank you
  • E1 everyone
  • Enuf enough
  • Exp experience
  • Feat featuring
  • Idd indeed
  • Mng manage
  • Mo more
  • Nething anything
  • Obvi obviously
  • Ofc of course
  • Posbl possible
  • Rep reputation
  • Rly really
  • S yes
  • sw or s/w software
  • srs serious
  • tech technology
  • tho though
  • tlkin talking
  • twds towards
  • tx thanks
  • txt text
  • vid Video
  • w/ with
  • w8 wait
  • wht what
  • xep except
  • xit exit
  • xlnt excellent
  • xmute transmute
  • y why
  • yrs years

Yes, these are more boring than the ones that express anger or insult others’ intelligence, but they are more useful for writers.

Twitter is a tool with nearly unlimited potential in so many fields. Know what you want to accomplish, choose your words well, emulate the brevity of the masters of the epigram, and use the available technology and slang, to squeeze maximum meaning into minimum characters for highly effective Tweets.

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