If you’ve ever used Twitter, chances are you’ve been annoyed by the 140 character limit on tweets. You think of something witty, decide that the ‘Twittersphere’ should hear it, then when you go to tweet it, find that no matter how much you edit, you just can’t squeeze it into the relatively small character allowance. Saying more with less on social media is a bit of an art form but it’s also a skill that can be learned.
This isn’t just an occurrence on Twitter, either, with other social media such as Instagram placing restrictions on video length and, up until recently, the size and shape of images.
When we think about it though, as annoying as these restrictions can sometimes be, don’t we need them? Imagine if Twitter didn’t have a character limit; we would be inundated with long-winded posts, and the snappiness of the social network – one of the defining differences between it and Facebook – would be non-existent. In fact, 451.5 full tweets can fit into Facebook’s 63,206 status character limit, which shows just how different these two platforms are.
With that same idea, if Instagram didn’t limit the maximum length of videos, there would undoubtedly be users uploading videos much too long, more suited to a platform like YouTube.
We are Goldfish
Humans have a short attention span, around seven seconds to be specific. In fact, recent studies have shown that we actually have a shorter attention span than goldfish (The Telegraph), meaning that we need to do whatever we can to keep our posts short, sharp and shiny so that we don’t lose the reader’s interest.
Just like an interesting headline in a newspaper draws a reader in, so too does a well-crafted social media post. So when using social media in a professional context, how do you reduce the amount of words in your post, but still get your message across?
Believe it or not, it’s actually quite simple!
First of all, know your platform, the layout of posts and how they will be viewed. It’s important to understand this well so you can utilise elements which will help your post stand out in your followers’ busy news feeds. If you struggle with this , it is often where an agency like ours can help.
It’s vital to then understand what your post is going to be about. Choose something relatively specific – too broad, and your audience won’t get the point of it, too specific and you could severely limit the number of people interested in what you have to say.
Including hyperlinks as part of your post is an ideal way to add extra information without overwhelming the reader. People will scroll past your short, eye-catching post, see what it’s about, and if you’ve sparked their interest enough, they’ll (hopefully) click on the link you’ve provided and find out more.
Visual elements such as an image or short video can determine whether or not someone stops and takes notice of your post. Use images that are sized appropriately for the platform you are using, and if you’re using the same image across multiple platforms, alter the size accordingly. Online design program Canva makes it easy to size images for a wide range of social media, and makes this step easy.
If you’re uploading a video, make people want to watch by including a short amount of text explaining what it is about, in such a way that will spark interest. Ensure that your video is about something engaging, too; a ‘how-to’ video of something you’ve received multiple questions about is a good example.
Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are the perfect platforms for sharing posts from a blog. A blog is an ideal way to keep people interested in what you and your business are doing, and you’ll be increasing readership by sharing these posts.
Posting content that is highly shareable is a great way to gain exposure online; anything that you think will interest your followers enough that they’ll want to share it with their friends.
Keep it fresh
If you’re going to be host to social media profiles, make sure that you update regularly with appropriate, relevant, engaging content. This will not only keep your current followers interested in your business, but ideally give you opportunities for more people to discover you and what you do. Use relevant keywords, particularly hashtags, in your posts to expand your reach and allow people with similar interests to discover you.
Check the results
Facebook and Twitter both have features allowing you to analyse the success of what you are posting, so you can easily see what’s working and what isn’t, and adjust your content accordingly. Schedule your posts for appropriate times, when your followers are most likely to be online and engaging in what you are posting. This can prove difficult if you have international followers in different time zones, but trying to understand where your greatest number of followers reside could see your posts receive much greater engagement levels. Posting outside of business hours is important too; post when people are listening, rather than just when your business is open. Facebook pages have the option of post scheduling, meaning you can organise a number of posts at once, then set them to send whenever you think is best, which can make out-of-hours posting much more manageable.
Don’t forget the ask
Regardless of which platform you are using, make sure that if you have a CTA (Call To Action) in mind – something you hope your followers will do because they saw your post – that it is clear and that your expectations are reasonable.
Now that you have maximised the number of people seeing your posts and engaging with them, it’s time for you to engage back! Reply to comments, answer questions and let your followers know that you care about them and what they have to say.
By taking the time to really think through each post, you can actually take these seemingly annoying character limits and turn them into something positive. You don’t need hundreds of characters to get your message across; there are a range of ways you can use a small number of words together with other elements to direct your reader to further information. Find the best ways to interest your reader and how to utilise external links and visual elements to your advantage.
Do you have any other tips or tricks you use to ‘say more with less’ on social media?