By | Jan 10, 2018
How is the expanded tweeting character real estate for working out on Twitter? The answer, depends on who you ask. YouGov, a London-based market and data analytics firm, surveyed Twitter users last month and learned they were split over Twitter’s decision to change the character limit in tweets from 140 to 280. Twitter, the San Francisco-based social media giant, made the move official Nov. 7 in a blog post. Of 1,200 Twitter users who had used the social network in the month following Twitter’s character change, 38 percent told YouGov they liked the tweet bump to 280 characters while 32 percent said they longed for a return to the 140 character days. The other 30 percent said they didn’t know either way.
We caught up with some marketers and social media leaders to hear their thoughts on how the change has impacted their strategy and tweets.
Remaining ‘Snappy and Pithy’
Charney Weiss, social media director at Los Angeles-based agency Dailey, told CMSWire that when Twitter offered 140 characters, the goal was to be “snappy and pithy.” Condense the copy, she said, into only key messaging and essential word choice, while still including all necessary tags and links. “Unless prohibited by our clients, we are very lenient in utilizing well-known shorthand or colloquialisms to save valuable character space. Our main goal is to create a tweet that is succinct and easily understood, but still captures the reader’s interest,” she says.
Now at 280? Weiss and her teams have kept the original strategy of remaining “snappy and pithy” but also take advantage of certain luxuries afforded with the extra characters. For instance, they can now place a higher importance on being grammatically correct, similar to copywriting strategies for posts on other social media channels. “We now reserve any shorthand or colloquialisms for particular brand voices or to get a point across, instead of simply to save space,” says Weiss.
Little KPI Difference
The results post-280 don’t show anything dramatic for Weiss. Dailey as a company has noticed results in terms of decreased editing time and stress, rather than measurable tweet performance. “We have seen very little difference in KPI results across any of Twitter accounts we manage since the update. However, our copywriters and social media managers have expressed spending less time agonizing over a character or two to get the message across,” she says.
How Impactful has the Character Change Been?
Some marketing teams have found the increase in characters with little impact on their existing Twitter strategy. Lynn Sladowski, senior partner and senior director at Wavemaker, told CMSWire’s Dom Nicastro that the key driver for her Twitter strategy is around finding the moments where the brand message “is a true fit for the unique strength of the platform.”
Increasing the character count to 280 hasn’t greatly changed how she uses the platform. “The character count is a creative format that helps us tell the story, but creative formats don’t lead our decisioning on how we approach that platform,” says Sladowski.
Brands, Sladowski added, have long been creative overcoming the 140-character limit with imagery or tweet-threading to share bigger ideas. The move to 280 simply creates an easier solution to meet the existing behaviors already happening on Twitter.
More Hashtags, the Merrier
Joshua Feinberg, vice president and co-founder of SP Home Run Inc., said his team has been running tests on using the extra Twitter space for additional hashtags. Beyond just looking at article titles and subheads for hashtag ideas when they share content, teams will now look at the first few paragraphs. Or, perhaps, even the entire article if it’s relatively short. This will help them pick up another 5-15 hashtag ideas beyond the obvious ones. “This not only broadens the appeal and findability of the content, it may open up opportunities where there’s less competition for attention, similar to how SEO uses long-tail keywords that are more specific and usually less competitive,”says Feinberg.
In theory, according to Feinberg, this should be something that content management systems and social sharing buttons could be auto-populated to add into posts/snippets, in the same way that many now add an author’s Twitter handle.
More Focus on Messaging
Despite the increase in characters, Twitter still likes brevity and speed. It’s what “makes Twitter, Twitter,” according to Aliza Rosen of Twitter, who blogged about the change. Rosen reported during a two-month trial period of 280 characters that only 5 percent of tweets went over 140 characters and another 2 percent over 190. And only 1 percent of tweets hit the new 280-character limit.
Jay York, senior digital marketing strategist, said he hasn’t noticed a significant change in the overall culture of Twitter. “I still find myself just barely crossing the original 140-character count simply because the format is so ingrained,” he says.
York added that the addition of relevant hashtags, emojis, etc. is far less stressful now that there is more wiggle room in a tweet. “I’m spending far less time rewriting and editing out unnecessary words, or turning ‘ands’ into ‘&’ and am able to spend more time on the message itself. While we’re definitely seeing some great results with longer content, I feel that it is early in the game to say whether those results are better or worse than before.” say York. He predicts the value of succinctness on the network will still be relevant in the future.
Better Content Promotion
David Erickson, vice president of online marketing for Karwoski & Courage, said his teams have taken advantage of the extra 140 characters in a few ways.
Sharing owned content: When sharing links to blog posts, landing pages, etc., they can add descriptive text that explains in more depth what the content they are linking to is about. “This provides more text and semantic context for Twitter’s (and Google’s) search algorithms to understand, which in turn creates more opportunities for tweets to be discovered,” Erickson says. He also added that the extra characters provides greater space to persuade the reader to click through.”
The team is also using the extra room to expand on current job openings. Here is an example of how they are suing the new character limit to bring in new talent.
Sharing podcast episodes:
Erickson co-hosts a weekly Beyond Social Media Show podcast, where he discusses the latest stories across the marketing world. He can now list all the topics covered in a given week’s episode and tweet about each individual story discussed during a given week’s episode, providing a link to that story and a call-out to the reporter.
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