Twitter is the new Mark Twain.
You’ll recall Mark Twain apologizing for the length of a letter, saying he’d have made it shorter if he had had more time.
Well, I recently started Tweeting as part of my new Consultant Launch Pad site (if you’re interested in following me, I’m @consultantlaunc) and it’s helping me think more about my messages. I’ve found that 140 characters isn’t all that much to express an idea (even if you’re just tweeting a quote or a link to another article or blog post), but if you want your message to get forwarded, you need to take that character count down below 120. That’s because a “retweet” also includes the name of the person forwarding it and that 120 characters needs to be even shorter if you want to give them space to make a short comment.
You’ll get a pretty good idea of how good or bad you are at communicating your message succinctly by the number of retweets and/or the number of people following you. One way to practice is to Follow a number of people and enter into a dialogue with them.
Tip No. 2 has to do with a new book out on the elevator speech called The Mirror Test by Jeffrey Hayzlett, Kodak’s former chief marketing officer. For now, I’ll point you toward an interview with and a mini-profile of him (they’re both short) but think his concept of what he calls “the 118” is pretty actionable.
Here’s an excerpt: “The 118 comes from the 118 seconds you actually have to pitch: 8 seconds to hook me and up to 110 seconds to drive it home — less than two minutes with only seconds to spare. The first eight seconds is the length of time the average human can concentrate on something and not lose some focus. It is also the length of time of one of the toughest rides in the world: a qualified ride in professional bull riding. In these first eight seconds, you must be compelling, strong, and focused to be successful. You must hold on as one of the meanest, toughest animals in the world tries to throw you off – just like any good prospect will. Make it those 8 seconds, and I’ll give you 110 more to drive your message home with no bull. But if you have not sold me at the end of the 118, I will start to tune out. At that point, we are moving forward to a sale or not.”
To summarize today’s two tips for a Twitter world: 2 Simplicity tips: Keep your Tweeting <120 charact and buy Jeffrey Hayzlett’s The Mirror Test.
And after attaching a TinyURL of this post, that’s 120 characters. On the nose.