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Short and Tweet: Attention Grabbers on Twitter Share Universal Wisdom

Copywriter Joshua Allen says of his Twitter presence: "I never want my tweets to rely on specific context. I want them to be something anyone could read and understand."
Copywriter Joshua Allen says of his Twitter presence: "I never want my tweets to rely on specific context. I want them to be something anyone could read and understand." (Washington Post Photo Illustration; Images From The Web)

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Either scads of publishers are fiendishly preying on our technological insecurities . . . or creating the perfect tweet actually requires learned skills.

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Those in the know say it's the latter, and offer some guidance.

Make It Participatory

"There has to be something useful and fundamentally unselfish about a good tweet," says Laura Fitton, author of "Twitter for Dummies" (insert obvious joke about Twitter already being for dummies), who as Pistachio has 30,000 followers on Twitter. The best tweets, Fitton says, provide more value to the reader than to the person writing it.

The masses of people who "blurt-tweet" and unthinkingly brain-dump into their account, Fitton says, will never achieve anything more meaningful than a public diary.

A few weeks ago, Fitton watched as her young daughter took a nasty fall. Wanting to let out her concern, she briefly considered Twittering the incident, until she realized that would help nobody and be white noise to almost everybody. Instead she ultimately wrote, "What do you do when something really scares you?"

What could have been a myopic update instead became a participatory discussion -- dozens of users began responding to her question, re-posting it in their own feeds.

Twitter is full of questions like this: Why do people change their minds when it's too late? writes one person. What do you do when Plan A doesn't work? another asks.

The most compelling tweets aren't the ones that merely answer "What are you doing?" but rather the ones that create ripples throughout the online community. They prompt discussion, self-reflection and philosophizing -- if of the dime-store variety.

Make It Universal

Several connoisseurs of Internet culture, when asked to nominate brilliant Twitterers, suggested tracking down fireland.

"I follow him purely for aesthetics," says Clay Shirky, author of the social networking bible "Here Comes Everybody." "It's like he has aphoristic dyspepsia. It's not quite poetry," but each of his tweets has a self-contained pithiness.

A recent fireland post:


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