By now, we all know we should use a “conversational tone” on Twitter and avoid distant, formal writing. But while many tweets are not distant and formal, they still miss the point of being conversational.
We’ve all seen tweets like:

  • New Promotion! Join Now to Receive a 20% Discount!
  • Everything you want to know about [PROJECT NAME] now online!
  • Looking for a challenging, rewarding job? WE’RE HIRING! Here’s your chance to break into this fast-paced career!

These are not conversational. This is marketing-ese.

No one walks into someone’s office on Monday morning and says “Jack! I Hope Your Weekend Was FUN and EXCITING! We Should Talk When You Have Some Minutes To Spare!” More likely, you say “Hey Jack. How was your weekend? Good? When you got a second, let’s talk.”
Twitter should be no different.
And there are three good reasons to keep this in mind.

Conversation Among Equals

We’ve all heard that social media is about the conversation, which should take place between equals. By using marketing messages, you’re making the mistaken assumption that you’re the sender and everyone else is a receiver. This isn’t a conversation and violates the idea that everyone is equal. In social media, your influence is earned, not assumed.
Key Message: You are one voice among many, so respect the conversation.

People Despise Marketing

We’re overloaded with marketing messages across all media and we’ve become immune to this language. We’re at the point of resenting it.
This is especially true in the social media space. On Facebook and Twitter, we are in control of who we follow, friend and subscribe to in order to learn something. As I’ve said earlier, we do not want to be pitched to. If we want to buy, we’ll seek out the information we want
So inform your followers, don’t sell to them. There is no need to make the “Ask” or try to “close” them. If you provide information of value, you are helping them to make an informed purchase, which followers will appreciate. Try the hard sell, and they will not even consider the offer, just leave.
Key Message: Inform, don’t sell.

Easy to Digest

The last—and for me, best reason—to use a conversational tone is it uses plain language. Plain language, with its use of common words and simple phrases, is easier to understand at glance and ideal for Twitter.
Clever, marketing-ese takes a second or two to comprehend and process. While this might work for a tagline with a captive audience, on Twitter you’ve got the blink of an eye to communicate your message before readers are on to the next message. As well, formal language tends to be overly wordy and difficult to understand.
For example, which best communicates its message:

  • To better protect your privacy, we’ve modified our terms of service. A summary of the important changes can be found at http://bit.ly…
  • YOUR privacy matters to US! We’ve heard your ideas and now our terms of service better than ever! Check them out! http://bit.ly…
  • We’ve changed out terms of service. Summary of changes at http://bit.ly…

Key Message: Plain language is shorter and easier to understand, making it perfect for Twitter.