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Twitter can IMPROVE your copywriting

Bemoaned by educators since its rise to prominence, Twitter is regarded by some as the fount of all poor writing, txtspk (text speak) and shortened attention spans. But using Twitter can actually help you improve other core written communication skills whilst reaching customers and promoting your wares.

The 140 character limit to every tweet means that you must make every word count to get your message across. The very framework used by Twitter is designed to discourage flowery prose and adjective-filled passages. Twitter is all about brevity. Twitter will make you think about how each message you send is crafted to squeeze every last ounce of meaning from the 140 characters you are allotted. In short, Twitter forces you to become a great writer and a great editor.

A picture of some Scrabble tiles spelling Twitter

When they aren’t messing around on Twitter, copywriters are invariably playing Scrabble.*

* This is a lie.

And for those adverse to deliberate spelling mistakes, shortened words or new-fangled acronyms, Twitter will require you to increase your vocabulary if you are to create a coherent message which delivers value to your reader. Want to use the word ‘dilapidated’? It will cost you 11 characters, so why not use ‘ratty’ (5 characters) instead? Just remember that on Twitter it really is OK to shorten words, even expected by most users.

By learning to be succinct in your tweets, you should hone the same skill for use in all your copywriting projects. No one likes to read extended, keyword-stuffed paragraphs of nonsense. So why not apply the same brevity to articles, blogs and brochures? And when you exceed that 140 character limit you will have to learn the art of good editing; a skill also valuable in any field of writing or marketing.

So is Twitter killing the English language? For some it encourages laziness, but for the committed wordsmith it may actually provide a harmless way to improve their skillset in a forgiving, generally friendly environment. If you have not done so already, give Twitter a go and see what you learn. If you are an existing user, keep going – exercise your vocabulary and always keep a finger near the delete key.

Twitter is also a great way to get in touch with other copywriters. Check out the gentlefolk who gather under the #copywritersunite hashtag and tell them I said hi.

If you want to know more about writing for the web, or have a project you would like some help on, why not get in touch? If you are already on Twitter please follow me for copywriting tips and general sarcasm; @TechWriteUK.


Image used under CC0 license from FirmBee.

Written by Ben Lloyd

Ben Lloyd has worked in the IT industry since 1996, covering a number of roles from helpdesk support to network management and everything in between. Tech Write is built on this experience, offering outstanding technical copywriting services to agencies and clients across the world.

2 comments to Twitter can IMPROVE your copywriting

  • Mike Robinson  says:

    Interesting angle for a blog – I really like it! This makes reasonably good sense, although you could always argue that you wouldn’t use “dilapidated” anyway as not many people really know what it means anyway. I think it was David Ogilvy who admitted to a journalist that he didn’t know what “ineffable” meant despite using it in some copy. At that point he realised that he needed to use words that his readers would understand, and Twitter is a great place to try that out.

    • Ben Lloyd  says:

      You make two great points Mike –

      1. The choice of words must always be influenced by the intended audience and crafted for their consumption.

      2. Twitter is a very useful place to try out vocabulary and messages for the widest possible audience.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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