Twitter goes beyond 140 characters

What to expect when Twitter goes beyond 140 characters

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Jay Dillon

Director of Strategy and Creative at Inbound Experts
Jay is a digital marketer and producer whose creative and technical skills have developed digital brand strategies and sales campaigns using a range of complex internet applications from stand-alone websites through to Facebook API integrations.
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There’s no doubt that the 140 character limit for Twitter posts has been its long established trademark ever since it first launched in 2007. However, when it comes to social media platforms, Facebook has been known to (every once in a while) apply a major adjustment or update to its platform – and it usually works and keeps its many users and social media marketers on their feet.

Now, it seems like Twitter might be turning to this same strategy and finally looking beyond 140. According to a recently published article by Re/code, this long-standing character limit might be expanding.

So what will this mean for digital marketers? And what is the reason behind Twitter’s need for change? If this change does happen, you’ll want to be prepared for it, and be ready to integrate this update into your social media marketing.

New opportunities

An increase of the character limit in Twitter would open up new possibilities to marketers. New formulas and products that allow marketers to enhance their ability to better communicate with followers could be incorporated.

According to Re/code’s article, Twitter executives have been studying and testing a product that would complement Twitter’s existing platform and allow users to publish ideas and posts more extensively. Extra small text may be added and be associated to a Tweet, kind of like the way you can now add images. Let’s not forget they’ve already incorporated a character-limit increase to their private messaging – from 140 to 10,000.

Why The Likely Update?

This update by Twitter would without a doubt be one of the most important and significant changes since the creation of the company. It also goes hand in hand with the recent hints of revamping delivered by current Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey. Dorsey’s statements were seen as a response to Twitter’s stagnation on growing its user base, especially when compared to other big players such as Facebook and Instagram.

The 140 character limit platform rounded up 304 million active users per month in the second quarter of this year. This is only about 12% more than in the same period last year and is definitely below the 310 million that was expected by analysts. There are also concerns over the renewal of users, with only 3 million more than in the first quarter of 2015. Once again, compared to the growth in other popular social media outlets (Snapchat included), these numbers are considered stagnate. Issues like these were enough to call into question Twitter’s business model.

What This Can Mean For Marketers

As a Twitter user myself, many questions arise. If Twitter does indeed enable its users to start publishing long-form content, what will this look like? Huge blocks of text in timelines? Or will this complementary product be a standalone blog-type service linked to from a tweet? However Twitter decides to implement this, it will definitely have a huge impact for marketers who use the platform to connect with consumers.

One thing is for sure – we’d begin to see longer form content, and digital marketers will have to spend more time drafting the body of a Tweet. I personally like the idea of this, as I use Hootsuite to streamline various social media outlets and due to the character limit, I always have to change up, chop off or schedule in separate posts interesting content for Twitter.

This change may also mean less frequent, longer Tweets throughout the day and like with Facebook, content marketers may decrease the number of times and things they share. This type of carefully coordinated posting in social media marketing comes from the fear of alienating consumers who may click “unfollow” if they feel bombarded with content – especially long content.

In closing

If you’re already a marketer who publishes content with voice and well-gathered information, just look at it as more space. If you’ve been a fierce Tweeter, then prepare to change up your strategy a bit. And don’t forget the power of images, as I’m sure that feature won’t go away. Combining quality content with visuals will result in the most liked or shared Tweets.

And finally, even if Twitter’s core loyal fans of the 140-character limit decide to rebel, a big change like this would most likely mean a new influx of users. And new users means a new set of eyes for content shared via this platform.

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