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Tweet like a pro

13 August 2015

Emma Maule, social media officer at the Law Society, provides some essential tips to get you tweeting like a pro.

When composing a tweet, consider these aspects:

  • Keep it short - you have 140 characters, but it's been shown that you'll get more engagement with your tweets if you can put out your message in 100 characters or fewer. You'll also leave room for people to add comments if they'd like to retweet your tweet using the old-fashioned method of copying and pasting it and including the abbreviation 'RT'.
  • Keep it to one idea - if you say more than one thing (or add more than one link) people tend to get confused about the purpose of your tweet.
  • Have a clear call to action - this could include things like registering for an event, retweeting your tweet, or visiting your website. Try to word it so people understand what you want them to do.
  • If you include a link, it's best to shorten it. Bitly is a great link shortener, but there are plenty of others including TinyURL and Google. If you're using a management tool like Hootsuite or Buffer, this will shorten links for you automatically.
  • Use a #hashtag or an @mention if appropriate. Always check these on Twitter first - inappropriate hashtags are all around, so don't get caught out.

Difference between @mentions and @replies

If you start a tweet with someone's username (@whoever), this is an @reply. If you do this, only the followers you have in common will see the tweet in their newsfeed. This is because Twitter assumes it is a private conversation between you and the account you are replying to, and so only interesting to those followers.

An @mention is when you refer to someone within the body of a tweet using their username, rather than putting it right at the front. All your followers will (potentially) see this tweet.

If you want to maximise the exposure of your tweets, don't start them with a username, or if you have to, put a full stop at the front:

.@TheLawSociety has some breaking news on #legalaid. Read it here: [link]


Twitter has done away with the need for using the abbreviation 'RT' - a retweet in the old-fashioned sense - with the release of its 'retweet with comment' feature earlier this year. This new development allows users to embed the original tweet within their own message and then comment on it in up to 116 characters.

Twitter retweet exampleHowever, this has the potential to go wrong if the original author decides to delete the tweet you have retweeted, which means your retweet-with-comment will look like this:

Twitter broken retweetWhich explains the enduring popularity of the manual retweet using the abbreviation 'RT'.

Common abbreviations

Since you have to cram your thought into 140 characters, use abbreviations to fit everything in. Here are some common examples:

RT = retweet in the old-fashioned sense - a manual retweet. This is used for retweeting a tweet so you can add a comment (instead of just clicking the retweet button, which retweets it 'as is'). Use the letters RT and the tweet author's @username, which will look something like this:

Yes, it is! RT @username: The sun is hot.

Twitter old retweet

MT = modified tweet - indicating that you're tweeting a paraphrased or modified version of someone else's tweet. Again, include the letters MT and the author's @username.

Twitter modified tweet

HT = hat tip or heard through - demonstrating you came across the content via another user, so you're 'tipping your hat' to them in thanks.

Twitter hat tip

OH = overheard - when you tweet about something you overheard in real life without identifying the person who said it, generally because it may cause embarrassment.

Twitter overheard tweet

Use this Twitter dictionary to look up commonly used terms.

Tags: mention | retweet | social media | Twitter

About the author

Emma Maule is social media officer at the Law Society, helping our members and other interested parties stay abreast of what's happening in the legal world.
Follow Emma on Twitter

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