What Twitter’s 140 Character Update Means for Marketers

September 21, 2016SOCIAL MEDIA, TWITTER

As if people didn’t have enough to say on Twitter already.


Earlier this week, Twitter made one of its biggest updates to its platform by allowing users to go beyond the strict 140-character limit implemented upon its inception. It certainly isn’t the first effort Twitter has put forth to boost its steadily dropping quarterly profit, but it may just be the most drastic.


After all, this isn’t a simple add-on. This is an overhaul of its original principles. The 140 character limit was meant to limit thoughts to a sentence or two, meant to rival the rambling hodgepodges diatribes of Facebook users. Sure you could just post tweet after tweet on the same topic, but those limitations forced thoughts to be concise, sharp and direct.


There was a lot more impact when you had to force yourself to eliminate superfluous words and irrelevant thoughts. Now users can return to their Facebook roots, interjecting what should be a succinct thought with flowery language better left for Stephen King.


Technically, all tweets are still 140 characters. But now you can fully utilize the 140 characters without attributing some of those characters to @names in replies, media attachments (photos, videos, gifs), polls, and quoted tweets.


While the quality of the tweets might suffer, in terms of their pithy influence, it does allow for clearer explanations when replying to messages. Users now have more room to be formal, like saying ‘Thank you’ to the user, and transparent in their reasoning behind tweets that may need more than 140 characters to fully get a point across.


This is big for marketers who want to engage and establish stronger ties with its fanbase, but it may not nearly be as significant as being allowed to post visuals without them adding to the count.


Speaking from personal experience here, that character count was a real issue when creating post. You were usually including a link, a visual, and sometimes a hashtag on top of it. Add it all up and you have enough room for 90 characters at best. Some products can be marketed and described in so few of characters, but there are many exceptions.


For example, adding a link and a visual to a tweet that absolutely had to include the term ‘Distributed Capture’ was as frustrating as you would think. And don’t even get me started on having to sacrifice proper grammar for the sake of a good tweet. Maybe that’s how copywriters so often get corrupted.


Now that visuals don’t account for the limit, however, marketers are free to employ photos that average a 35% boost in retweets or videos that average a 28% boost in retweets.


Marketers are now free to place stunning visual images and videos in every tweet they please, so long as they adhere to the extended-but-not-really 140 character limit.


Not only that, but they’re free to engage in better conversations with more details. When you’re explaining yourself to a customer, as a brand, you don’t want to be vague or be forced to withhold any details that may be of benefit to the customer. Now you can be thorough and, if it’s a technical issue, even attach screenshots, videos and instructional images depicting how to resolve whatever issue the customer may be having.


Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, explains:


“Generally, we want to make sure we’re encouraging a whole lot more conversations on Twitter. This is the most notable change we’ve made in recent times around conversation in particular, and around giving people the full expressiveness of the 140 characters. I’m excited to see even more dialogue because of this.”


However, and this is for the marketers, just because you are given an extra few characters to work with it doesn’t mean you should compromise the quality of your tweets. Being succinct and concise is key to winning on social media, even on Twitter where the copy is short as it is. You still want to be short in your approach, but clear in your message.


It’s perfectly fine to add a few more details, but not so much that it will compromise the quality of the tweet and include words and phrases that didn’t need to be there prior to the update.


Instead, use this opportunity to discover new ways to utilize images, videos, gifs and polls with your tweets. This update presents an opening for all brands to try new approaches in their strategy and to further the trend towards Twitter, and social media in general, leaning more on its visual content.


If more brands do end up leaning on visual content because of this development, more investment in digital marketing budgets will follow, since brands will be competing through higher quality videos to get their message across.


But that shouldn’t discourage smaller brands and agencies from refining their strategies. You may not be able to compete with the bigger brands, in terms of quality videos, but you can still match them with .gifs, images, polls, and innovative copywriting behind every post.


What do you think of Twitter’s update? Are you planning on refining your strategy because of it? Tell us on our Facebook!

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