Short tweets rule during major events

A study from MIT’s Senseable City Lab found that social media messages are shorter during major events. Researchers looked at Twitter, where individual messages have a 140-character limit. The study found that most tweets ran from about 70 to 120 characters at times of lower messaging activity. But at high traffic times, when messages are sent up to 200 times as frequently, the highest concentration of tweets was only about 25 characters in length.

Why did reseachers find this phenomenon? What does it mean? While the researchers suggested that an emotional response to the event may be a significant factor, these shortened tweets probably suggest a “We’re all on this topic together” mentality, where the tweeter feels s/he has the complete understanding of his/her audience. So what should we do with that information as marketers? I think marketers should follow the lead of the masses and shorten tweets in those high traffic times to be in sync with them, but be sure not to make them so short your message is lost.

“Contraction of online response to major events” in the journal, PLoS ONE, 2/26/14.