A good short run bodes well for the long run. Whatever we're pitching on Twitter--a book, a business, a buff bod, a sparkling sense of humor--others will form their impressions on the strength of a handful of Tweets. I know, I know. This just doesn't seem fair. 140 characters? I share your pain. But the truth is: within the iron confines, clever peeps can rock.
I'll take this a step further: clever peeps not only rock, they manage to project tantalizing glimpses of personality, style and character well worth a closer look.
And we're wise to look more closely. Why? Because when all of that's conveyed in 140 characters, we know a wealth of talent is at play behind the post. And we know that this writer's gone out of his/her way to treat us as real, busy people--not a great sea of faceless marks for whatever it is that s/he's selling. We can also be reasonably certain that a writer who can work within a 'budget' this tight will be a joy to be around when s/he has more room: a book or a business proposal.
We're wise to look more closely because Tweeters like this are so rare. If we scroll through an average list of Tweets we'll a lot of mostly, sorry, mental masturbation: nonstop recylings of past posts: BUY MY BOOK/ON SALE TODAY/READ MY REVIEWS/USED CARS AT OUT OF THIS WORLD PRICES/TODAY I DID MY LAUNDRY, etc.
You'd be foolish not to wonder: Hey, what's in this for me? The good news is: As you get better at asking that question, you'll grow in skill at answering how you can engage readers as real people, and capture their attention, in 140 characters.
My training: I worked as a retail copywriter years before computers or Twitter. Our space restrictions were severe and we had to count characters to make sure our copy would fit before the works went to production. Usually, we had room for one creative sentence before we moved on to fabric content, percentage of savings, dollars saved, disclaimers, etc. One sentence! And occasionally my ads were competing with those of six other writers. I had to get my shine on fast with products that weren't that exciting in and of themselves.
The two important lessons: shoppers don't buy only to save money...and they want to be romanced--but not snowed. I romanced them playfully, making them feel good about buying something, on the cheap, by a not famous designer: E.G.:
Down comforters: Nights go better under down...
Reversible comforters: One good turn deserves another...
Now, this wasn't Shakespeare. Nor need anyone else become a retail copywriter. But learning to maneuver within a very tight space is a cool and useful exercise. And the exercise is simpler if we think in terms of YOU, not MEMEME. If I remember that YOU are busy and bombarded by self-serving Tweeters, I'll make the time to custom tailor Tweets with YOU in mind.