Bitter-Tweet Symphony: Can we still maintain our character when our messages contain only 140?

Remember when calling internationally (back in what feels like the Stone Age) used to cost several dollars per minute? The premium price caused us to cut our conversations to the essential points. Flash forward to the present day, with brands and consumers alike all a-Twitter. The blessing and the curse of Twitter’s 140-character limit is the even deeper cuts to communication—bare bones messages without nuance, bold, italicized, or underlined text. As a result, the blunt messages leave possibly a bit too much room for interpretation and misunderstanding.

This challenge is nothing new—with each new technological breakthrough, from the printing press to television, radio, the Internet and social media —the medium  inherently changes how we communicate, and, in doing so, alters the message.

Erase and Rewind

As a matter of fact, tweets cannot be edited to correct information, but they can be deleted altogether. Take, for example, the case of IHOP’s 2015 ad titled “flat but has GREAT personality”. Even though it referred to their pancakes, the offensive reference to women’s bodies crossed the line. Will you be forgiven for such blunders? Probably, over time. The twitter-verse understands. Forgetting to fact check? That’s a bit more complicated.

Adding Image Files and Videos

Twitter’s multimedia functionality allows users to spread information without attribution (but this is not the case with written tweets). This removes accountability for truthfulness from the user sharing the information.

Lack of Reciprocity

A person can watch or “follow” a user’s feed without being followed by that same user. This is somewhat unique among the social media landscape, where in most cases, two-way connectivity must occur before communication.

Your Abbrev. Cheat Sheet:

Born of necessity, abbreviations abound in Twitter speak. Here are a few of the most commonly used abbreviations:

BC = Because or be cool

BF = Boyfriend

BFF = Best friend forever

GF = Girlfriend

BRB = Be right back

GTG = Got to go

IKR = I know, right?

JK = Just kidding

K: when OK is too long

L8R = Later

LOL = Laugh out loud

NM = Never mind

<3 = (sideways heart), for love

PAW = Parents are watching

TTYL = Talk to you later

WBU = What about you

WU = What’s up?

YOLO = You only live once (previously: Carpe diem)

LMAO = Laughing my @$$ off

AF = Really used for “as f***”

And last but not least:

YAA = Yet another acronym! OMG!

Naturally, these acronyms are easily misinterpreted. Without understanding tone, was the abbreviated phrase intended to be sarcastic or mean? Behold, the emoticon (and their more possibly more evolved lifeform, the emoji): Thanks, media gurus! Emoticons do not require translation or the use of different characters (though cultural adjustments might be suggested as appropriate).

For a more comprehensive (and ever evolving) list of abbreviations click here.

Is your business considering creating Twitter accounts in a variety of languages like Pope Francis? Tell Language Solutions can help you craft the 140 characters to attract your target audience in their language. For more information, contact us here.

TFS + TTYL. (Thanks for sharing and talk to you later).