Thursday, November 28, 2013

News Writing For Twitter

Keep Your News Tweets Short
This sounds obvious because no tweet can go beyond the character limit. But look at a page of tweets to test your own eyes. How many times do you stop at a post that is 130-140 characters? Look at the posts that are 50-75 characters and notice the white space around the tweet. That blank space can be as important to your tweet as it is in print media. While the tendency is to use every pixel of the 140-character space that is available to you, your tweet will stand out more if it's shorter, especially if it's sandwiched between other tweets that reach the character limit.

Use All-Caps to Introduce Your News
Capital letters don't count against you when Twitter calculates the number of characters in your tweet. Yet those capital letters can set your tweet apart from all the rest, provided they are used carefully. Treat them as a headline or a dateline in your tweet to grab attention:"BREAKING NEWS: A fire off Interstate 10 has closed several lanes of traffic.""WASHINGTON, DC: Pres. Obama has laid out his economic proposals."The key is to keep it short. You don't want your users to think you're yelling at them. By creating this type of prefix before the main content of your tweet, you may find you can save a few precious characters. You don't have to write, "This is breaking news" or "From Washington, DC".

Look at Your Logo
Technically, this isn't part of writing a tweet, but it is a critical element in making Twitter more effective for you. Scan a list of tweets and some logos stand out, while others fade into the crowd. Just as there is a tendency to cram too much writing into a tweet, it's not hard to spot a logo that is way too detailed for Twitter purposes. Simple is best. Even if your media outlet has a long name, like the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper, fight the urge to put the entire name in your Twitter logo. In the case of this paper, the logo is a lower-case "ajc" inside a simple blue circle, not the intricate script used for the print edition's masthead. Newsweek uses a capital "N" in the same font and color scheme that you'll find on the cover of the magazine. You can make Twitter an effective tool by going against the grain of how most people use it. Simple, bold and visual are the three aspects of Twitter writing that will keep your characters from being lost in the clutter.

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