Earlier this week, some of my friends were taking a class at the Emergency Management Institute (EMI) for Advanced Public Information Officers.
They shared this Twitter slide as it was shared in class and it made me a little crazy for the following reasons:
- Twitter is platform that allows you 140 characters.
- Your goal is to have your information re-shared or retweeted. This means you can’t use the full 140 characters. A better goal is about 100 characters.
- If you’re critiquing grammar on Twitter, you probably haven’t really been on Twitter.
Engagement on Twitter can look very short and sweet, but rarely follows anyone’s style guide. Sorry, Chicago.
Here is an example:
— Caz Milligan (@Caz_Milligan) January 12, 2014
In this Tweet, by my friend Caz Milligan, here are some things to notice:
- The first character is a “.” This allows the general public to see the Tweet. If Caz had directed this tweet to @mtthwhgn, only she, the recipient and those who follow both Caz and @mtthwhgn would see the Tweet in the general timeline. By putting any character at the start of the tweet, it will be seen by anyone that follows Caz.
- You’ll notice the use of the SMEM hashtag as illustrated by #smem. This is like shipping a Tweet into a stream. A hashtag (placing a # sign in front of any word) will make it independently searchable. So, anyone watching the #SMEM comments on Twitter (but who may not follow Caz) will also be able to see this Tweet. Same goes for her use of the hashtag #resilience.
- The word “thank you” is shortened by TY (also, probably not in any style guide for good grammar). You’ll also see regular use of the acronyms RT (re-tweet) and MT (modified tweet). Many other text-based abbreviations are used in Twitter. Here is a good list if you need a reference: http://www.webopedia.com/quick_ref/textmessageabbreviations.asp
- And while you don’t see it in this Tweet, you may even see numbers used in place of words like 2 = to, too, two, 4 = for and/or B4 = before.
While the world can always use more encouragement for folks to focus on grammar, practicing your good grammar skills on Twitter is not really necessary.
The Twitter community will ask you to provide timely, relevant and interesting information. Accuracy is good, too, although in dynamic situations may be a little tricky. I’ve heard it said that you can be timely or accurate, but rarely both at the same time. Your community will forgive you for inaccuracies as long as you quickly correct misinformation and communicate regularly.
So, save your grammar pokes for Facebook, okay?