It’s time to break out your calculators! In this week’s Social Summer School lesson, we’re covering character count. It’s not quite calculus, but it’s left more than a few social media managers reviewing their arithmetic.
Lesson of the Week: Character Count
Consolidating an idea into 140 characters is not a struggle unfamiliar to social media managers nor everyday users. We feel your pain, so we’ve made today’s lesson as easy as counting to three.
Twitter originally created the 140 character count to align with the technology at the time it was founded (the good ol’ days of 2006). A text message had a limit of 160 characters before it was divided into more than one message, so the character count restrictions meant a Tweet would fit into a single text.
The Math That Matters
Twitter is in the process of rolling out some updates to its current character counting ways. Visuals and usernames used in replies will no longer take away from our 140 precious characters (coming soon). But until these arrive, here is some character count calculus:
+ : As of now, visuals and links add characters, so be sure to account for this when you pre-compose Tweets.
IMPORTANT: Link shorteners make links appear cleaner, but do not use less characters.
- : Try to subtract any filler words taking up space, like ‘the,’ ‘that,’ or ‘just.’
x : Abbreviations can be helpful, but avoiding using more than three. 2 many can b distracting & yr Tweet might b hrd 2 rd.
= : If you’ve rearranged and re-worked your Tweet and it still doesn’t quite fit, don’t give up hope! Try these simple shortcuts to knock off a few characters:
And = &
With = w/
Because = b/c
≥ : When writing Tweets, a good rule of thumb is to leave ≥ 23 characters for a link or image! (Don’t forget to leave 46 spare characters if you’re using both!)
When in doubt, compose your Tweets within Twitter! That way you can be 100% certain your Tweet meets the character criteria.
True or False: Link shorteners decrease the number of characters a URL or link occupies.
If you answered True, you may want to retake the course. The age-old lesson “Don’t judge a book by its cover” definitely applies here; short link ≠ less characters.
- Character count updates coming soon: Twitter
Written with help from Grace Rasulo.