— Tim Pawlenty (@timpawlenty) August 12, 2011
Governor Tim Pawlenty’s campaign never quite had the time to figure out how to use Twitter, so they are a great resource for what not to do. After the third Republican debate, in Iowa, the Pawlenty campaign got really excited about a couple of things all at once. First they talk about a debate, then a TV appearance, then the Straw Poll, then donations, all with a tag for the Iowa Caucus. What?
Don’t overshoot your message by trying to include too many ideas in a single tweet. Think one tweet, one idea. Anything more is difficult to read and understand in 140 characters. If you have multiple ideas you want to get across, use multiple tweets!
This was Pawlenty’s worst performing tweet of the day, with one-third the retweet count of his twenty-four hour average. That’s not only because it is confusing. For example, the trending tag at that time was, unsurprisingly, #IowaDebate. None of the people tracking that tag for the debate would have seen this tweet. By mixing issues, Pawlenty never fully capitalized on any single one.
This tweet also assumes a lot of context from the reader; they have to know about the debate, the Ames Straw Poll, and the Iowa Caucus. What if a user didn’t catch the debate, or hadn’t heard of Ames? They would be lost, and most likely uninterested in donating money to something they don’t understand. That destroys the end conversion of raising funds.