Twitter’s Unexpected Benefit (Revised: 12/23/14)

Twitter and other social media tools aren’t always celebrated as meaningful message delivery tools, but Twitter is one of my best technological friends.

Social media tools sometimes get a bad reputation because some individuals believe that these tools negatively impact society’s ability to communicate effectively — specifically interpersonal communication.

Social media communication challenges:
* messages aren’t always written in complete sentences;
* a writer’s intent is sometimes missed or misinterpreted due to an inability to see a sender’s non-verbal communication;
* misunderstandings – related to processing delays – can happen between the time a message was sent, received, and reviewed.

These are social media communication issues; however, there are challenges with face-to-face message delivery also.

In-person communication challenges:
* key elements of a message might be missed;
* a message is interpreted incorrectly;
* background noise prevents all or part of a message from being received.

In my college classes, my students are sometimes directed to write about a current event without any restrictions given to the length of their work.  Then, students are directed to reduce their message to a single paragraph — with the core message(s) maintained.  Once completed, the final step is to convey the critical components of their message in no more than 140 characters.  Usually, by the end of this exercise, students are surprised at the amount of information that can be communicated in a few characters with a little focus.

This type of exercise can educate and convince non-believers that – with thoughtful consideration – social media tools can aid in the delivery of short and meaningful messages.  This approach can also help to encourage the development of concise messages, which are still informative, impactful, and innovative without unnecessary details.

For example, announcements about my articles are written on Twitter before similar messages are posted to other social media platforms.  This process allows me to deliver more concise and focused communication about my articles’ content. 

If this article was written as a tweet, the entire message would be, “Use #Twitter to learn and train to succinctly communicate shorter messages; deliver complete, clear, and concise messages in 140 characters.”.

Anyone who is tempted to count the number of characters or copy this string to Twitter for validation … my tweet about this article contains exactly 140 characters.

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