If you’re a social media addict, like the team here at Approach, you’ll be all too familiar with Twitter’s rather foreboding 140 character limit. You take out words, you remove hashtags, sometimes to no avail. Your tweet just doesn’t work anymore.
But according to Bloomberg, the microblogging site will soon stop counting photos and links within its 140 character limit. This news hasn’t been verified by Twitter yet but Bloomberg says the changes could be made within the next two weeks.
At the moment, links take up 23 characters of a tweet, which means you’re left with a paltry 117 characters to cram in everything you want to say as well as an image. This can be very frustrating if you’re trying to get all your brand key messages across as well as some engaging visuals and a call to action.
Whilst founder Jack Dorsey once described the limit as a “beautiful constraint that inspires creativity and brevity”, the fact that the company increased its character limit for direct messages last year does indicate that tweets could very well be next on the hit list.
Why more characters?
Well, in recent months the company has been struggling to attract new users and its share price has declined by more than 70% over the last year. So, it’s clear that the social network needs to take steps to make itself more user friendly.
Earlier this year, The Drum reported that more lengthy content was making a comeback, nodding to the launch of Facebook Instant Articles, the Guardian’s ‘The Long Read’ and Snapchat Discover. Clearly, if the news about Twitter’s character’s limit does become a reality, it means that the site has recognised that long-form content is where it’s at.
Long-form content is journalistic, it contains links to research that backs up your story and the insertion of videos, infographics and images create a multimedia experience for the reader. By allowing people to post more words and multimedia, Twitter would be entering this brave new world.
At the moment, Twitter’s user base contains 310 million monthly active users, which is low when you consider the fact that Facebook’s stands at 1.65 billion. By giving users room to breathe with their Twitter content, it would enable marketers to better position businesses as thought leaders in their industries, thus enabling them to convert customers more easily. If there’s a more pressing reason to be using Twitter, surely this will lead to an increase in users?
But, let’s play devil’s advocate here. Whether this is the right step for Twitter or not is another matter altogether.
Will people want to read through reams and reams of words, pictures and links on their timeline? Will Twitter’s layout have to change completely in order for it to be able to host long-form content in an engaging and visually attractive way? Will it negate everything that makes Twitter stand apart from all its social media competitors and simply relegate it to another blogging site?
If Twitter does make this bold move it must be thought through, as one possible effect is that people will actually be put off by the changes and they use Twitter even less than they did before.
Despite all of this, for PR and content marketing professionals like us, there is a very positive angle here for us to focus on. This news demonstrates that good quality, in-depth content is thriving in a world of social media proliferation.
It’s a signal to us that we should continue working with our clients to ensure they put long-form quality content at the core of their PR and content marketing strategies.
Image sourced from Pixabay