Twitter Line Breaks and Your Business

Twitter is trying to mix things up by allowing line breaks in individual tweets. While this may not seem like a big deal at first blush, there are several things you will want to keep in mind if you use the microblog to market your small business (and you should!).

Pink Birch - Tweet: Good Usage of Line BreakThe Good:

Spacing increases readability. By allowing you to isolate words and phrases, your main point can have some punch. Links will be easier to tap on small mobile screens, allowing a higher chance for clickthroughs and thus increased conversions into retweets and favorites. Comments and quotations will be more obvious, too. Basically it gives a very short message some breathing room, and it gives the content writer more control.
Pink Birch - Tweet: Bad Usage of Line Break

The Bad:

As with anything new, nobody is sure how this will be exploited yet. We’re all pretty sure that it will be though. Many people are complaining already that this weakens one of the big strengths of Twitter, in that Twitter clients and the website itself offer a quick, pared down stream of content. You want to be very careful that you use the line breaks sensibly, lest your business be seen as part of the problem. Nobody will mind the occassional, well used space, but you don’t want to be irritating.

The Ugly:

Twitter used to be tight. Focused. Chunked, compartmentalized and manageable. Now, the feed will inevitably include more sprawl and bloat, and thus scrolling. Most folks are not using the feature much yet, but some are early adopting and you can already see that one or two of those posts will mess up an entire screen’s worth of tweets. Basically, it has introduced an element of chaos to the mix.

So how can you use Twitter line breaks effectively?

First, start with a normal tweet. In fact, if you’re using a service like Buffer (which is awesome) you can play around with some of your upcoming tweets. Quoting Abe Lincoln? Try isolating it from your comment by adding a blank line in between. Have a word or short phrase you want to pop? Add line breaks before and after. Use a little poetry to add elegance and sophistication, and use proper line breaks in your tweet! You can even do haiku! This makes by-lines on tweets a little more recognizable as well, if you have more than one person using the account. Are you the type who likes to add lots of hashtags at the end of a post? Now they can live on their own line without muddying the message.

A couple of key points

  • Every line break counts as a character.When you’ve only got 140 to play with, that matters.
  • Keep an eye out for how it actually looks in a tangle of other tweets. You want it to stand out just a bit, but not look obnoxious. I suspect that there will be a rash of unfollows for Twitter users who are seen as abusing the feature.
  • Remember the format here is a microblog. A quick, powerful blast. Don’t fall into the email mindset and feel like you meed to write out a closing salutation like “sincerely,” just because you can.

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