As you’ve probably heard, Twitter is changing its character limit.
But, far from the 10,000 character apocalypse many predicted, the business has done so in a way that is actually relevant for users. In the near future, images and links will no longer count towards your character total.
This is good news on a number of fronts, but also has some interesting implications for the future of the business that show that Twitter is actually paying attention to its users.
First, the good stuff
I often see messages carefully put together by marketers for Twitter that forget about a few simple things – links, retweets and images all add to the character limit on Twitter (A friend once told me that he received a panicked email from his marketing department asking “Are you sure Twitter is only 140 characters? That’s not enough!”).
In almost every case, I think the limit is a good thing, but just occasionally you have a complex concept to communicate – or you’ve spent a long time coming up with the perfect punning headline – and you want a diagram and a full sentence.
Text speak isn’t always appropriate for business accounts (‘Abbreviation’ is also a terribly long word), so being able to clearly spell out a headline is preferable.
Images are proven to increase engagement, so it makes sense for most businesses to be including one in almost every tweet (Make sure you optimise them as well).
Now, onto the ‘possibly good’ stuff
Links. We know there are a lot of them on Twitter. And that’s good. It’s a place to go for information. Recently Twitter decided to play to this, proclaiming that it was no longer a social network. Instead, it is now ‘a place for realtime news’. It isn’t the first network to make a statement like this – Facebook has been a ‘marketing Platform’ for several years now – but for Twitter it has some interesting implications.
Firstly, it accepts that people use Twitter to broadcast now. No longer is it a place to have short, fun conversations with friends. It’s a place to get fast news and, if you are so inclined, bellow your own opinions about it.
This is actually fine, but it does have some implications for the content marketing industry. It means that there’s going to be a lot more noise to cut through for one. In the past I’ve written about how certain large accounts dominate the type of information that is shared on Twitter, and this is set to become a bigger issue.
Content marketers that chase news are going to have to really up the quality and uniqueness of their output if they want an audience. And that’s actually a good thing. Events like Twitter chats will stand out, and news that hasn’t been regurgitated by the major players will hopefully find a niche audience.
As a reasonably early adopter, I’m somewhat disappointed that Twitter isn’t quite the chatty marketplace it was when I first came on board, but I think this move will have a dual effect.
Firstly, we’ll see a short period of massive push messaging. Then the numbers will come in and everyone will realise they have to stop shouting and concentrate on making really useful things that appeal to separate audience niches. And I think that will be very welcome indeed. Less noise, more value (And more Gifs as well).
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this development. Is this the start of a slippery slope, or a move that will help transform Twitter into an all-consuming news colossus?
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