By Scott Kleinberg, Tribune Newspapers
December 27, 2012
Starting in February, Twitter is changing the way is shortens URLs. For you, the tweeter, it means a little less room for your already short message.
Right now, a URL starting with "http" takes up 20 characters, while those starting with "https" take up 21. On Feb. 20, that number increases by two, so 22 for "http" and 23 for "https". That leaves 118 and 117, respectively.
Can you fit your tweet in 117 characters? Sure you can. Consider this: My tweets with links are never more than 100 characters, even before the change. My tweets without links are never more than 120 characters. It's rare that I send a 140-character tweet.
Why would someone do something so insane? Simple. I'm a firm believer in allowing extra room for someone who retweets to make necessary modifications or add a message. I don't believe that everyone will just hit the automatic retweet button.
I'll go a step further. I don't think people who cram as much information as possible into one tweet get retweeted nearly as often as someone like me, who allows for breathing room.
If all that still seems easier said than done, here are a few tips for shortening your tweets:
Think smaller. You want to get your point across and that's it. Don't worry about adding details — you can always do that in subsequent tweets if necessary
Make a point to not include text shorthand. Words like "nite," "thnx" and "l8r" are not words. If you insist on keeping them as part of your vocabulary, limit them to SMS. If you know you can't tweet that way, you'll be more mindful and aware.
Remember: Grammar counts too. An acceptable method of shortening you're is not to change it to your. When you start doing that — and I see it a lot — people catch on fast. And the Internet is a very unforgiving place.
I challenge you to take 20 characters off your tweets and see how you do. I believe that writing less will actually make you a clearer communicator.
What questions do you have about social media? Tweet them to @scottkleinberg or @amyguth. We might select yours for use in a future column.
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