People are suddenly posting lots of screenshots of text to Twitter.
What's a Screenshort?
Essentially, it's a chunk of text, screen-shotted, and embedded in a tweet. It's become an extremely popular way to share a passage from a story. You could call it a Tweetcap, maybe. But I'm going with Screenshort.
Embedding a text block means that people will read the thing you want them to read without having to follow a link. It, genuinely, saves a click (without being condescending!).
It's also an effective way to highlight a passage. There have been all kinds of attempts by different websites to make individual passages and paragraphs linkable, but nothing has caught on. A Screenshort goes right where you want it to.
This isn't just me speculating. Chris Dixon recently posted two versions of the same tweet, one with a link, and the other with a block of text as an image. The image embed had notably more engagement. (Engagement is all that matters, right? Look, we're engaging right now. You and me, engaging. How was your day?)
Predictably, the rise of Screenshorts has led to people calling for Twitter to expand past 140 characters. But that's dumb.
Kind of counterintuitively, Screenshorts demonstrate why the 140 character limit is vital. If people began posting massive chunks of text to Twitter, it would no longer be easy to scan. But the Screenshort, working side-by-side with in-line image previews, works perfectly. Click to enlarge and all that.
And it's only becoming more prevalent!