Twitter has controversially doubled its character limit from 140 to 280, but why are marketers so concerned and what does it mean for your brand?
This week, Twitter rolled out an extended character limit for all users, including business accounts. The decision, which takes a tweet from 140 characters to 280, has been somewhat controversial, especially among marketers.
Why, you ask? Well, Twitter has always been an effective marketing tool because of its strict character limit. It forces brands and users alike to get straight to the point, rather than waffling on.
In a world flooded with advertising and brands vying for consumer engagement, Twitter offered a unique platform, where users were able to quickly see whether they were interested or not in a brand’s offerings.
This gave the social media platform a distinctive voice in the digital playing field.
It’s this that marketers are worried may have been sacrificed in the decision to increase the character limit. Twitter has said its move is designed to attract new users, but it could be jeopardising its current position as an effective – and unique – marketing platform.
Because what does Twitter offer now that Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn don’t? It definitely becomes a lot more difficult to identify its USP. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not saying Twitter is doomed or that it’s no longer a good tool to use for marketing, but it has made it more difficult for tweets to stand out from the crowd.
Brands on Twitter need to use caution when it comes to the new character limit. There needs to be a focus on sticking with the platform’s direct mentality and maintaining the effective social strategy you already have in place.
The last thing anyone wants is for companies to start filling their feeds with short novellas about their upcoming product, service, or even the latest social event.
“Brands need to remember not to do anything knee-jerk ,” Rachel Collazo, Social Media Manager at Axonn Media, explains. “Brands that have been most effective on Twitter have championed the restrictive character limit and found a way to use it to their advantage, engaging users with short, snappy posts. We don’t want to see brands losing that just because there are now 280 spaces to play with.”
So what’s our advice? Use caution. Don’t just start writing longer tweets because the option is there or you feel as though you’re wasting the extra characters.
The changes don’t yet apply to adverts, though brands can generate 280-character-long organic posts, which they can then run as Promoted Tweets. According to Twitter, ads will benefit from the extended character limit “in the coming months”.
We’re not ruling out experimenting with different styles of tweets that take advantage of the additional space, but it’s important that you don’t jeopardise the current strategy you have in place for the sake of using a few more words.
Some Twitter accounts have put their creative juices to work with some brilliant tweets to mark #280characters:
Nasa won the game with their ingenious use of the 280 characters:
— NASA Goddard (@NASAGoddard) November 8, 2017
The account @IAmOxfordComma also managed to make the most of the news:
I, for one, welcome the advent of #280characters. For too long, I have been neglected, omitted, and discarded. There will no longer be any reason, justification, or excuse for not using an Oxford comma. You can even put two spaces after the full stop (but that looks a bit silly).
— Oxford Comma (@IAmOxfordComma) November 9, 2017