By Joe Meloni Recently, Re/code reported that Twitter is working to expand its traditional 140-character limit – raising the bar all the way to 10,000 characters. Soon after the announcement, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey took to, obviously, Twitter to demonstrate what the platform’s future might look like. As he wrote, Twitter users often post screenshots of text, and if that text could be searched and highlighted, it would add “more utility and power” to the social channel. Dorsey’s correct in thinking that an expanded character limit would improve utility and power. However, his message refrained from describing who or what exactly would benefit. For Twitter, this move will help make the platform’s ad-targeting capability stronger. More text means more data to add into its advertising algorithm and more insight upon which to base ad delivery. For marketers and PR pros, however, more characters won’t necessarily change the way your company builds social influence and amplifies its earned-media PR program. Longer tweets shouldn’t change organic social marketing Part of Twitter’s beauty is its simplicity. Quick, engaging delivery of relevant information, links and content that appeals to users and lets them decide in a heartbeat what it means to them. Your customers might use Twitter when they’re on the train, when they’re watching the game or when they’re mocking celebrities during the Golden Globes. Social marketing is about creating branded content that stands out in those fleeting moments. An expanded character limit will benefit companies investing in paid social advertising. That’s not a bad thing. Paid social capabilities have helped countless businesses expand their presence and target the right consumers with meaningful content. However, a shift in social advertising shouldn’t change the way you develop content for integrated PR and marketing strategies. Are people using Twitter for long-form content? HubSpot put together an infographic last year that shared the following statistics:
Eighty percent of Twitter’s 302 million active users access the network from a mobile device.
Those users send 500 million tweets per day.
Fifty-five percent of tweets contain an image.
Nearly one-third of tweets contain a link to another website.
These statistics speak to three significant facts about Twitter, what it is to people and why they enjoy using it. It’s fast. It’s fun. It’s an information hub. Longer tweets negatively influence the speed at which the platform delivers information, and may result in such a significant redesign that the initiative could suck a portion of the fun from engaging on Twitter. Twitter trying to be more than it is would frustrate users who enjoy interacting on the site, as well as publishers and influencers using it to drum up awareness. At the moment, integrating Twitter into a social marketing and content strategy calls for developing engaging, concise content that compels either an instant click or a follow to generate future clicks. Ten thousand-character tweets won’t make a social marketing strategy more beneficial for your brand. Instead, those posts will keep eyes on Twitter and away from your website. More than a few weeks out from Re/code’s report and Dorsey’s explanation, it’s still unclear what Twitter will look like in the future. The uncertainty has some social marketers wondering how to alter strategy in the face of more available space. Ultimately, the point of a social presence for any company – B2B or B2C – is to build awareness as part of an aggressive, multichannel PR and marketing strategy. It’s to build a following and engage customers and prospects on their terms, on their own time, in a neutral venue. If Twitter wants to give everyone more space to share information, insight or adorable pictures of French bulldogs, that’s fine. Social marketers don’t need to alter their unpaid social strategies, though. Branded content has helped companies stand out, and customers enjoy interacting with it. That doesn’t mean they want to see tweets ranging into the hundreds of characters. The attention span of the average Web user is shrinking more every day. The key to successful content marketing, which is exactly what social marketing is, is to focus on the user. So when Twitter gives you an extra 9,860 characters to work with, remember why people follow your account in the first place.
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