3 Ways Brands Can Gain From Twitter’s Character Limit Tweak
May 25, 2016 • 3 min read
Updated on May 5, 2017
The latest change that Twitter has proposed will have a significant impact on brands’ twitter strategy. In addition to gaining 24 extra characters that attachments would take up otherwise, this affects how well they can use Twitter to boost their presence online (and sales offline).
Do you know how I found out that Twitter’s character limit tweak was finally implemented? As I was composing Tweets, I saw that I still had 20-odd characters to go even after my well-honed Twitter instincts had pushed the breaks. I knew that Twitter had proposed to not include pictures, gifs, polls and @ mentions (in replies) in their strict 140 character limit. As the resident Social Media Journalist, a sizeable part of my day is taken up by coming up with tweets to share content that we put out. It is always the same dilemma – do I ditch the picture and go with crisp copy or given that tweets with pictures engage better, should I keep the text to a minimum? Add to that the emotional trauma of replying to brands with Twitter handles that seem to go on forever and ever, leaving me about enough space to put an emoji. And no more losing sleep over a silly dot before tweets that begin with an ‘@’ mention.
— Twitter (@twitter) May 24, 2016
I expected the responses on the blog post that announced the change to be full of people vehemently protesting. It turned out that most people welcomed the change (thinking more or less along the same lines as I did).
Let’s take a look at three major changes that brands can look forward to :
- Brands that have stellar creatives will benefit greatly as they can showcase their awesome gifs, videos and photos with the added bonus of 24 more characters to write about those. Brands are already using media in 50% of their Twitter content so we’re likely to see that rise even further. Twitter audiences could see wordier and attachment-heavy tweets from brands. However, links will still be counted as part of the tweet-body.
- Replying to customers who have entered into conversations with you will be much easier since the Twitter handles of the people you reply to will not be part of the tweet-body. This makes brand conversations less cluttered both content-wise as well as aesthetically. This will greatly assist brands build a persona online. Tweet chats can be a lot more fruitful now that you get the full 140 characters when replying to multiple people in a conversation. (Find out how you can keep an eye on how well you are managing conversation volumes on Twitter vis-a-vis your competitors)
- Ever had to tweet out something urgently and then wail about nobody seeing it to your teammates? Now brands can retweet their earlier posts making it easier for them to ensure that tweets don’t get lost because of bad timing. Also, how convenient will it be to quote an earlier tweet within a tweet with an update on it? You can now follow-up on product announcements, proposed changes to your apps etc keeping your Followers in the loop.
While I would strongly advise brands to rejoice, I do need to put out this word of caution too. Tweeting more since it has become easier might do you about as good as shouting at a wall. Brands should be mindful of why they tweet and what they hope to accomplish from it. If click-throughs are what you are going for, it is essential that your copy and your tweet are as concise as can be. You do not want to add to the noise that your Followers scroll through before they find something interesting. It becomes all the more important now that you have a handle on your twitter analytics so that you won’t lose out.
No medium can survive without embracing change and Twitter’s move is in the right direction. What brands need to do is to up their copy-game rather than thank Twitter and stick to the old plan.
(This article was originally published on May 25th following Twitter’s announcement about the proposed changes. It’s been updated on October 5th, after these changes were finally rolled out to Twitter users globally.)