I have noticed more and more that some prominent people and national companies have started to embrace the hashtag, tagging, and shorthand culture we live in through every message they send out via Twitter. While I cringe enough at seeing friends and tweens compose tweets that contain no full words yet plenty of @ and # symbols I become blown away when professionals and important entities do the same.
A part of me dies when I see a semi-celebrity tweet something out like this: Can’t wait 2 see @BigMan453 & @FlyGurl34 2nite! We b #helping a good cause. Cum #support da kidz! #charity . Or when a respectable organization sends something like this out: ICYMI..Tonite join us 2 #celebrate #CustomerAppreciationDay at the @MustardSeed. #Free apps and #fun. CU there! #DontMissIt.
Twitter users who adopt this style look unprofessional, sabotage their message, and demonstrate a complete misunderstanding of how the social media service works.
As I said above shorthand is cool for 12-year olds, not for companies. When I see a business that misspells “cause” as “cuz” or “little” as “lil” I question whether their websites and other marketing materials employ those spelling mechanics as well. Same thing goes for when I see a respected journalist opt with “nvm” in a tweet instead of “nevermind” or mindlessly decides to use #traveling in the middle of a tweet rather than just traveling. It makes me wonder whether he actually graduated from high school and if he is just having someone else write his columns. Bottom line, this type of usage makes the company or person look childish…also known as unprofessional.
Most damaging, the method of using shorthand in combination with numerous hashtags and tags severely dilutes a tweet. The number one goal of social media should be to communicate, not to confuse. When I look at a tweet that hashtags every other word, mentions three people by their unrecognizable Twitter handles, and uses far-fetched abbreviations my head wants to explode. Accounts that utilize this strategy in hopes of cramming extra information in or in an attempt to look cool actually obtain the complete opposite and totally sabotage their social media Twitter effort. By all means utilize hashtags and mention someone by his or her Twitter handle now and then but don’t overdo it. When composing tweets we should be asking ourselves how we can be as clear and concise as possible. This differs tremendously from trying to put in as much “stuff” as possible. To illustrate my point let me use an example from my industry. What tweet do you think is more impactful?…
UMGRIZZLIES: Griz basketball vs. Idaho St. TONIGHT – 7 p.m., Dahlberg Arena. Enjoy a free t-shirt and see Kareem Jamar score 1,000 career points #GoGriz
UMGRIZZLIES: #Griz bball vs. #ISU 2night – 7 p.m. in @DahlbergArena. Get ur free #tshirt and see @Reem5Racks score #1,000 career points #GoGriz
See what I mean? Sacrificing a few characters for a much more clean and concise tweet trumps a jumbled up, hashtag plagued ramble any day. In the above tweet I know who the Griz are playing, who is going to reach a milestone, and what I stand to gain by going. All that I know with the second tweet is that I never want the person behind that account teaching my future kids grammar.
Finally, Twitter users show incompetence by littering tweets with hashtags and mentions. People and companies looking to get more engagement and hoping to get others to stumble on their account through this method will be very disappointed. Followers are gained by informative, witty, and interactive tweets. Followers are gained by strategically using specific hashtags based on research and backed by a marketing campaign. Followers are gained by demonstrating to the audience that a competent and intelligent voice is behind the Twitter account. Followers are lost and/or never found by sloppy, desperate tweets.
Always strive to inform followers rather than overwhelm them. All organizations and prominent individuals should be able to figure out if a tweet is solid or a mess just by quickly glancing at it. Accounts that address followers in a logical and adult like manner will have more success than accounts that address followers as if they were a middle school student composing a text message. Don’t Blink.