Quick midday post to further explain a Tweet from earlier today re: average length of Twitter handles:
We have written a number of 'auto-Tweets' at Hashable in the past few months - Tweets that get automatically sent from our system/bot Twitter account whenever a user takes a certain action.
For example, when you send your friend a #invite, our system sends a Tweet to your friend with instructions on how to log in. Or when you make a #intro, we auto-Tweet you and your friends with a link to the 'ice-breaker' page getting your friends started with the intro.
One petty but key input to writing these auto-tweets is how many characters to assume for the Twitter handles that need to be included in the Tweet.
As an example, here's a blank draft for an Invite auto-tweet:
When we were writing this Tweet we generically plugged in "@handle1" - an 8 character handle. And we had 16 characters remaining. The max handle length is 15 so our message could have actually been a little longer.
But in some cases we need to include multiple handles - up to three let's say - and have never quite known how many characters to assume for handle length in order to understand how many characters we had to work with for the message itself.
Today we finally ran a quick analysis to determine an average handle length. Based on a list of 500+ handles, both the average and median handle length is 10 characters including the @. The majority of the handles that exceeded 10 were in the 12-13 character range - with relatively few in the 14-15 range.
So by way of a rule of thumb - and this is clearly not very rigorous analysis but in absense of anything else - I would say:
1. Assume 10 characters per handle (i.e. use @handle123 as your plug)
2. Make sure you have at least 10 characters unused.
3. If your Tweets need to include more than three handles leave at least 3 unused characters per additional handle.
If anyone has a more rigorous methodology, bring it on! Also, sure there are some glaring flaws here so pls point those out too. Happy Tweeting!