Twitter’s shares took a tumble on Tuesday with the announcement that tweet character limits might jump from 140 to a massive 10,000 characters.
What will this look like? Re/Code reported that your feed will essentially remain the same on the surface. Longer tweets will display as normal – in 140 characters – and then, if someone is interested enough, there’ll be functionality to click and reveal the full content.
Critics have slammed the move, saying the expanded character limit takes away from Twitter’s simple elegance. Regardless of what you think of the announcement, the reality is that Twitter will still remain an important news channel.
When the expanded character limit is introduced, what should PR professionals be aware of and how should they best use the expanded space?
Simplify access to your message
Before, regardless of whether your tweet was punchy enough to grab the attention of browsers wanting to know more, you had to rely on them clicking on a link which took them outside Twitter. Now, your headline becomes your 140-character tweet and your press release/alert/blog post can easily be displayed underneath – all without the user having the leave Twitter.
As content makers, we are used to consolidating our message to create maximum impact with minimum perceived effort. What I mean, of course, is that while we might spend an inordinate amount of time obsessing over a few paragraphs, the end product won’t (or shouldn’t) look like it. Our aim is usually pretty simple: spark interest, consideration and action.
Twitter has been good for helping us develop our cut-to-the-chase skills but it doesn’t exactly allow for much more. How can we truly get across a brand’s proposition in a short tweet? Obviously we don’t need to wax lyrical every time, but trying to cram an amazing story into 140 characters feels a bit… hollow. Having more space to creatively build a fuller brand story around that cool new initiative or product isn’t a bad thing.
Earlier last year Twitter removed the 140-character limit from Direct Messages. Do you even know how much easier this has made it for me to complain about my crappy sandwich or bad train journey? Lots.
In all seriousness though, the 140-character DM limit used to frustrate me so much as a community manager. How can you genuinely respond to a complaint or engage in a broader conversation with a client or a member of the public? I resented having to condense my replies, fearing that the brand was coming across as unsympathetic and definitely not that interested.
The increased DM character space has allowed brands to build more genuine relationships with their followers privately. Having the ability to publicly clarify concerns or provide a more in-depth explanation to a question has the two-fold effect of both increased brand awareness and brand trust amongst followers.
Your blog away from your blog
Twitter is used a lot by brands’ bloggers to help drive traffic to their website. These brands use pictures and snappy headlines to help achieve those elusive click-throughs. Now brands and individual bloggers can host a proper preview of their full post within Twitter. If browsers like the excerpt, they’re likely to click through to the blog anyway to read the rest of your post and/or to see what else you have to say.
Quite simply, this ups the chances of more of your content being seen by more of the right people.
By Lydia Lobb
What do you think of the proposed character limit increase? Do you think it’s a good or a bad thing for companies and their PR teams?