September 26, 2017 started out like any other day in the Twittersphere. Users were retweeting, hashtagging and liking posts in newsfeeds without a care until about 4 p.m. when Twitter announced it was increasing the tweet character limit from the 140 characters that made the channel iconic to 280.
Can’t fit your Tweet into 140 characters?
We’re trying something new with a small group, and increasing the character limit to 280! Excited about the possibilities? Read our blog to find out how it all adds up. https://t.co/C6hjsB9nbL
— Twitter (@Twitter) September 26, 2017
While the team at Twitter was thrilled to roll out the new feature to select users, most of the users granted with the 280-character limit used it to complain about the new feature.
┃┃╱╲ In this
the 140 Character limit
— bäx (@bax_up) September 27, 2017
This is just to say
I have raised
of the characters on
you probably thought
This is easier
Some other stuff
pivoting to vi
— J. Robert Lennon (@jrobertlennon) September 27, 2017
Although criticism reigned as Twitter initially tested the idea with a select group, in the weeks to come many users started to voice they were envious they did not have the new feature.
I’m gonna be honest, it’s killing me that I don’t have 280.
— Pass-Through Yglesias (@mattyglesias) September 27, 2017
As a digital marketer, I admit my initial reaction was disappointment after spending years perfecting the 140-character tweet strategy. But after reflecting on the change, I felt relief when I realized we could utilize Twitter more in certain aspects of our strategies – which led me to think of all the possibilities.
— Paige Velasquez (@PaigeVelasquez) September 27, 2017
A few Zilker Media clients were selected to be part of Twitter’s 280-character limit test group so we learned quickly how to adapt our content strategy to fit this new format. There were three key content strategy lessons we identified before the new character count rolled out to the entire Twittersphere in November.
1. 140-character tweets are still ok
Just because Twitter allows for more characters does not mean you have to use them. Whether it is 140 or 280 characters, Twitter should still be a channel for brevity in your content strategy. One thing to keep top of mind is how the content displays to your audience on mobile. Hootsuite and We Are Social reported in their Digital in 2017 report 91 percent of social media users access social on mobile. This means brands should not abuse the feature by loading audiences’ feeds with text-heavy content – this will not resonate well with the Twitter community. Only put out content that stays true to your brand’s voice and is proven to resonate with your audience. Do not force longer captions in your content – always value quality over quantity in your tweets.
2. More opportunities for storytelling
When brainstorming how brands should use the 280 characters, we found storytelling could be done more eloquently with the additional space on a channel where it had previously been a challenge. We have found success on using the extra space in few tweets to tell complete stories of value to our audience. Twitter even mentioned in their announcement of the additional characters the 140 limit felt like users had to cram their thoughts into one post. This new opportunity has been a breath of fresh air for digital marketers and influencers.
3. Improve your customer service
Twitter is a channel where customer service is top of mind for most brands. The additional space allows many brands to fully educate their audience on their service or product – possibly combatting customer service issues in the future. When addressing a negative customer service experience, the 280-character limit gives your brand opportunity to streamline the response process and diminishes the chance your response could be misconstrued. Too much brevity in a response could result in a brand voice lacking empathy. The additional space gives brands a chance to truly provide elite customer service on Twitter.
— Paige Velasquez (@PaigeVelasquez) November 8, 2017