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140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form

140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form

Dom Sagolla

ISBN: 978-1-118-25800-2 November 2011 208 Pages

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Make the most of your messages on Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites

The advent of Twitter and other social networking sites, as well as the popularity of text messaging, have made short-form communication an everyday reality. But expressing yourself clearly in short bursts-particularly in the 140-character limit of Twitter-takes special writing skill.

In 140 Characters, Twitter co-creator Dom Sagolla covers all the basics of great short-form writing, including the importance of communicating with simplicity, honesty, and humor. For marketers and business owners, social media is an increasingly important avenue for promoting a business-this is the first writing guide specifically dedicated to communicating with the succinctness and clarity that the Internet age demands.

  • Covers basic grammar rules for short-form writing
  • The equivalent of Strunk and White's Elements of Style for today's social media-driven marketing messages
  • Helps you develop your own unique short-form writing style

140 Characters is a much-needed guide to the kind of communication that can make or break a reputation online.

Acknowledgments xi

Foreword by Jack Dorsey xiii

Introduction xv

The Short Form xv

The History of Twitter xvii

Part One: LEAD 1

Chapter 1. Describe: A Brief Digression to Discuss Journalism Is Warranted 7

Observe the Truth 10

Play with Perspective 11

Lead with Action 13

Chapter 2. Simplify: Say More with Less 15

Constrain Yourself to the Atomic Unit of One Message 16

Appreciate Craftsmanship as a Thousand Small Gestures 18

Start Small and Serve a Special Niche 19

Limit Yourself to One Sentence, One Thought 21

Chapter 3. Avoid: Don’t Become a Fable about Too Much Information 23

Remember What Not to Do 25

Find Your Lowest Common Denominator 28

Divine a Strategy against Too Much Information 29

Practice Self-Defense 30

Reinforce, Don’t Replace, Real Life 32

Part Two: VALUE 35

Chapter 4. Voice: Say It Out Loud 39

Extend Your Range 41

Build Your Repertoire 43

Strengthen and Amplify 44

Chapter 5. Reach: Understand Your Audience 46

Measure Reader Engagement 47

Gauge the Reaction to Your Message 48

Identify Your Fans 50

Chapter 6. Repeat: It Worked for Shakespeare 53

Enable Repetition of Your Message 53

Repeat the Words of Others,

Adding Your Mark in the Process 56

Exploit the Twitter Effect 56

Chapter 7. Mention: Stamp Your Own Currency 58

Design Your Mark 59

120 Is the New 140 61

Post One or Two Replies,Then Take It Offline 62

Chapter 8. Dial: Search for Silence, Volume, and Frequency 64

Pipe Up Just When It’s Quiet 64

Understand the Use of CAPITALS 65

Discover Your “Office Hours” 66

Chapter 9. Link: Deduce the Nature of Short Messages 70

Study the Anatomy of a Single Message 70

Share the Power of Hypertext 71

Change the Meaning of Words by Linking Them 72

Chapter 10. Word: Expose the Possibilities in Phraseology, Poetry, and Invention 74

Design Your Own Pattern 76

Build Your Own Lexicon by Inventing

New Words 81

Poetry Is a Guide 89

Part Three: MASTER 95

Chapter 11. Tame: Apply Multiple Techniques Toward the Same End 101

Technology Will Consume Us If We Don’t Learn to Control It 102

Discover the Antidote to Each of 12 Stages 104

Manage Multiple Accounts Effectively 108

Remember: It’s All about Timing 109

Chapter 12. Cultivate: Meet 140 Characters, Each with a Unique Story 110

Create a Culture of Fun 110

Imagine Your Audience 112

Focus on Learning 113

Chapter 13. Branch: Steady, Organic Growth Is Most Manageable 115

Don’t Let Success Go to Your Head 115

Do the Same Thing, but Differently 116

Never Stop 118

Part Four: EVOLVE 123

Chapter 14. Filter: Teach the Machine to Think Ahead 129

A Little Programming Goes a Long Way 131

Breaking Things Is a Path to Learning 133

Chapter 15. Open: Give and You Shall Receive 135

Go Positive 136

Never Limit Yourself to One Platform 138

Chapter 16. Imitate: There Is Nothing Original, Except in Arrangement 140

Become an Apprentice 140

Take Someone Else’s Style One Step Further 141

Create a Caricature of Yourself 142

Chapter 17. Iterate: Practice a Sequence of Tiny Adjustments 144

Write Everywhere and Often 144

Games for Words 145

Ignite Change 146

Part Five: ACCELERATE 149

Chapter 18. Increase: Do More 153

Produce a Series on a Short Subject 153

Manufacture Velocity 155

Exceed Constraints 157

Chapter 19. Fragment: Do It Smaller 158

Decrease the Size of the Atomic Unit, the Message 158

Embrace Ambiguity 159

Recommended Reading 161

Glossary 165

Index 173