I love this quote, which comes from a recent LA Times article about how auto companies are using Twitter to reach out to their customers. It’s from Geno Effler, Volvo’s VP of public affairs:
“We helped condense [Volvo president Doug Speck’s] sentences down to 140 characters. It helped him connect with consumers. We found it to be very worthwhile to talk about the XC60 as it was coming to market, to answer basic questions about the car or about safety, and convey the information in very short spurts.”
I love it because it mentions character counts, which is something many of us at AHA! wrangle with on a daily basis. Some of us do it so much we can tell how many character a sentence holds, just by looking at it.
Writing to a character count can be a frustrating task at times. When you have multiple stakeholders, all with strong views, sometimes you just don’t have enough characters to accommodate everyone. On the flip side, it forces prioritization. When you only have 25 characters, including spaces, you better know exactly what you need to say.
So delivery mechanism aside, character counts can be a good practice to put into place, especially when there’s an important message that needs to be communicated and lots of ideas jockeying for attention. Even if it’s used as an internal tool, and your character-restricted phrase or sentence never sees the light of day, the discipline it imposes can serve as a touchstone when creating a longer piece.
Counting characters, it seems, can also build character—brand character, that is.