Nonprofits, churches and political organizations are embracing Twitter as a means of getting their message out, interacting with their constituents, and seeking donations.
Many of these groups are new to social media, and perhaps they’re not getting the results they hoped to see.
There are many factors that go into the success or failure of social media outreach. The most basic concept is creating and curating content that is interesting, relevant and valuable to those you’re trying to reach.
If a Tweet Falls In the Forest
But what if you’re putting out great content–both original and curated (retweeted)–and nobody is interacting with it? Without meaningful interaction, the mere act of being on Twitter is an exercise in futility rather than utility.
One of the main problems I see when curating content is that many tweets are too long to retweet.
Know Your (Character) Limits
Twitter has a limit of 140 characters, stemming from its origins as a text messaging application. Back before smartphones and unlimited data plans, text messages were capped at 140 characters–with extra characters resulting in a charge on your bill.
When it moved to its current app- and web-based existence, Twitter kept hold of its 140 character limit to force people to be brief.
Retweeting adds several characters to a post–six plus the length of the original poster’s username. Here’s an example:
â€” Givelify (@Givelify) March 24, 2014
That retweet added a total of 16 characters:
- RT (which stands for retweet),
- the @ sign before the username,
- the username of the original poster,
- two spaces, and
- a colon.
What this means is that in order to be retweeted effectively, the original post had to be 124 characters or fewer (140-16=124).
I spend a fair amount of time each day perusing the various Twitter lists I’ve created of accounts Givelify follows, sharing those posts I think would be of value to our followers.
Often I run into posts that would be great to share, but find that when I hit “retweet” the post is too long to share without serious editing. That editing can alter or harm the original intent of the post.
Make It Easy to Share
If your organization is at all serious about its social media strategy, you must make it simple for your followers to re-share your Tweets.
One of the easiest ways to do that is to make sure you allow room for your posts to be retweeted. Here’s how:
- Count the number of characters in your username
- Add 6 for the extra characters added by a retweet
- Subtract from 140.
The resulting number is how many characters you actually have to work with.
If you stick within that limit, you are guaranteed to see retweets–and therefore engagement–increase.