Planning a Twitter Post: Usability Matters in 140 Characters

So Twitter is an interesting medium, because the rules are all informal. The speed at which information flows means that active Twitter users either use Tweetdeck and monitor the conversations all day, or log in periodically and miss whatever didn’t just happen. How often you can repost the same Tweet is a fine line between spamming and letting the information vanish.

The Nielsen Norman Group describes the 5 iterations their announcement of two usability conferences went through, a very detailed process for planning an announcement.  Rather than blasting it every hour and losing followers, they are focused on a tight message that is under 130 characters for easy Retweeting and viral effectiveness.

I feel pretty hypocritical, seeing as how I’m just using Twitterfeed to feed my blog posts, but a real solution is on the to do list, and safe to say for a client I would never simply dump a headline written for the web and Usability/SEO to a twitter feed.

When doing early tests with Pack Your House, which was actually going out via SMS, we would routinely spend 3-5 iterations for each message, because you can’t send people repeated messages without upsetting them or running up their tab.

An interesting thing you’ll notice through the iterations, he dropped extraneous words, not vowels.  He communicated his information without resorting to short hand that his targets might not understand, carefully adding emphasis and scanability to his Tweet rather than confusion.

The Twitter system opens up some tremendous marketing channels for getting messages out, but usability will help determine the success or failure of this channel.

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