Friday, February 26, 2010

Are your headlines #Twitter-friendly?

News-style writing values brevity and clarity, and no where is that more important than on Twitter. With its 140-character limit and heavy concentration of journalist users, effective headline writing is critical for getting the biggest bang for news releases or blog posts on Twitter.
  • Be concise. VERY concise. Yes, you may have 140 characters on Twitter, but that doesn't mean you should use all of them. First, you'll need to include a shortened URL to the full news release (minimum length: 20 characters if you use bit.ly). Second, you'll want Twitterers to "retweet" your release, so subtract another 20 characters "RT @username" and a brief comment. In other words, headlines should be shorter than 100 characters.

  • Be clear. If you're lucky enough for your blog post or news release to go viral, you'll want your headline to be clear without additional context. Tweets that are serially retweeted will often lose the original Twitter handle, so the source may not be identifiable before users click on your link.

  • Be relevant. If you're wanting your message to reach an audience outside of your normal followers, use hashtags (or "#" pound-signs) to reach those groups. Of course, that means that the topic needs to be a part of your headline and match the appropriate hashtag. For example, if I want to reach bankruptcy lawyers on Twitter about a new seminar, I should add #bankruptcy #law hashtags to the tweet.
Happy tweeting!

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