Just last week Twitter announced a pretty stark change on their platform. No it’s not that night mode came to desktop, it’s that they went from 140 characters to 280 characters. Twitter 280 characters? Yes, it’s true. Twitter, founded on the concept of microblogging may be having word envy as they’ve doubled their character count from 140 to 280.
That means that instead of tweeting things like:
Wondering what ppl think about the new changes in #contentmarketing as everyone shifts to #video. Thoughts?
You can tweet:
Wondering what people think about the new changes in #contentmarketing as everyone shifts to #video. There’s definitely been a large shift as video reigns supreme on #social, providing a new and dynamic way that prospects consume content. Thoughts? Drop a comment below!
The point being, instead of hyphenating words or leaving thoughts half-baked you can flesh them out. This means more space to share your thoughts, and also more space to just blast white noise and be ignored. Concerned about the change? Don’t be, we’ve put together our assessment to see you through so you can continue to market effectively!
Why the change?
Twitter ran their official blog post on the change the day they made the switch. Ultimately the goal for them was to make tweeting easier across languages. Their claim being that character-based languages such as Chinese or Japanese have an easier time packing meaning into a character as opposed to the English language. This makes sense, a 140-character tweet in Chinese very well could be 100+ words whereas 100+ words in English is a paragraph.
From a usability standpoint, this makes perfect sense. However, the frustration arises when you wonder why they never made this switch a bit closer to 2006 when they were founded 11 years ago. People are creatures of habit. We take the same route to work, have the same coffee order, and generally listen to the same music (or at least music of a similar style). Faced with a dramatic change, the reaction to Twitter’s character bump has been mixed at best. Namely, this is just because for 11 years we’ve become used to tweeting with extreme brevity while using creative methods to shorten our words and now it’s as if we were upgraded to first class with all the leg room in the world.
Twitter is doubtful to do much else to change the character count, which makes me wonder what their next step is going to be in order to compete as a social network. For now, this does present a change in how marketers can spread their brand so let’s dive into the good stuff.
What, if anything, should I do differently?
With great character counts comes great responsibility. That’s the phrase right? Overnight you were given a higher ceiling than ever before in packaging a bite-sized message. While it’s a pretty simple concept for a change, it does have some grander implications so let’s dive into them.
The obvious one: You have more legroom
Let’s warm up with the painfully obvious: you have more wiggle room with your tweets. Just like Kramer’s envisionment for wider highway lanes in Seinfeld (I hope I don’t date myself with that reference), you get some elbow room to lounge around a bit. Feels luxurious right? You don’t have that counter turning red at 10 characters left knowing you have three words in your tweet you need – time to cut out vowels and shorten keywords hoping your audience knows what you mean. Fortunately, those days are over, and the initial impression I have when tweeting is one of relief.
From their point of view in their reasoning why I’d say this is mission accomplished.
More room, but do not abuse it
The beauty of Twitter is the tag many associate with it: microblogging.
It’s not about a well-crafted thesis and supporting arguments, it’s whatever comes to your mind when you’re taking your midday bathroom break (let’s be honest, we all do it). Just because you have 280 characters does not mean you should use all of them every time. The last thing people want to look at is a giant wall of text they have to slog through. Should you add a few long-form tweets every now and then? Yes, definitely. But don’t go crazy with it and be sure to break up the monotony, which leads me to my next point.
Wider variety of content means a new diverse strategy is needed
With a higher ceiling means more diversity and range in the content you provide. When using 50 characters vs 100 there’s not much if a difference. However by punctuating your usual quips with a long-form tweet, then perhaps an infographic, then a video, then another quick jab suddenly you’ve gone from a bland homogeneous timeline to a New England-autumn foliage level of diversity. Strategies such as these can inspire delight in your followers, ideally encouraging them to share your content and letting the great content machine spin from there.
Use these longer tweets with strategic intent. You weren’t given an upper bound to all your tweets. You were given a gift that should be used well. Varied content can put your Twitter game on par with your approach to Facebook, trust me your followers will take notice.
Twitter 280 characters?! Yes indeed. It’s not a sign that the sky is falling, or that the world is ending. It’s a change that, while fundamental, doesn’t have to throw you off course by much. By using long-form tweets strategically you can add variety to your content that will draw followers in and encourage them to share it with their networks. So go forth and multiply your tweets!