October 15, 2015
Anyone who has ever used Twitter knows the pain: typing a Twitter post and agonizing over how to meet the 140-character limit.
Does “later” become “ltr”, or should “sorry” become “Sry”? Do you need to use ampersands instead of “and” or simply cut your message short in order to fit the most important pieces in?
We’re all for brevity, of course, but sometimes 140 characters is just simply not enough.
We’ve got great news, though: it looks as if Twitter may be re-thinking its 140-character limit altogether.
Read on to learn more.
A Call for Direct Publishing Privileges
Re/code reported on September 29th that Twitter is planning to offer a long form text option for its users. While nobody knows exactly what this change will look like yet, it seems safe to say that this means the death of the 140-character limit and that Twitter has finally chosen to bend to popular trends and opinions.
Let us explain: for the last several years, social networks have petitioned brands to allow them to publish long form content rather than only being allowed to post links. LinkedIn, for example, made a large announcement stating that it wanted to become a heavyweight in the world of professional publishing and, since then, more than 1 million people have used LinkedIn to publish content directly. Companies like Medium and Facebook have since followed suit and more and more users are publishing directly onto these large social platforms.
That, of course, leaves Twitter as one of the last holdouts.
In the face of all of these recent changes, it would be downright foolish for Twitter to remain one of the only social platforms that doesn’t allow users to publish content in full. While Twitter is already a massively successful content giant (worth more than $18 billion, at last count) it is obvious that more content spells more money and more customer engagement for the media platform.
Additionally, this move on Twitter’s part signifies a major shift in the company’s priorities. While Tweets were and have always been meant to be short, quick, on-the-go updates about news and other important information, the death of the 140-character limit means that Twitter is bravely jumping on the bandwagon and becoming a truly interactive social platform that allows users to post more content and enjoy the benefits of content in full.
Since the death of the 140-character limit is the first major change that Twitter has seen in years, many users are speculating that the character limit increase is a strategic move on Twitter’s part, designed to keep it from slipping into stagnation and becoming decidedly uninteresting to its users. Experts have long said that, in order to really draw new audiences, Twitter needs to shake up its game a bit. This is due to the fact that users who aren’t familiar with Twitter may find the character limit hostile or confusing and, when virtually nobody else places a limit on character usage, it’s easy to see why confused customers would simply take their thoughts to another social media platform. That said, it seems likely that the decline of the character limit is a bold move on Twitter’s part – aimed at maintaining the charm of its service while also opening it up to new clients.
What This Means for Users
For individual users, the disappearance of the 140 –character limit spells more freedom and a friendlier interface. For content marketers, however, it carries a very different meaning. Twitter has roughly 271 million active monthly users and studies have shown that 85% of the time people spend online is dedicated to the use of apps.
With that in mind, it’s obvious that the increased character limit means more rein for content marketers to distribute smart content in intelligent ways to a truly massive audience. Twitter is a unique platform in that it offers an unparalleled platform for exposure, awareness and going viral.
While the 140-character limit certainly served its purpose (keeping Tweets short and sweet) the disappearance of that has the potential to open the site up as a full-blown content machine, allowing users and marketers alike to share more and, thus, promote more direct relationships with readers.
3 Rules to Live by in the Post-Character Limit World
The challenge associated with the new character limit, according to many experts, will be for marketers to learn how to fully capitalize on Twitter’s new expanded character limit while also nurturing their audience to the fullest extent possible. The downside of the decreased character limit, of course, is that it opens the site up in a new way to being a dumping zone for icky content or content that simply wouldn’t make the cut were the character limit still in place. With that in mind, responsible posting will boil down to these three things:
- Only Share Relevant Content: The withdrawal of the character limit may make some marketers feel like kids turned loose in candy shops, but this is dangerous. Don’t get carried away by the newfound freedom. Remember, as always, to only post content that is relevant to your users or your mission and to keep your content focused on catering to the Twitter platform, new and improved as it may be. Extended and involved posts are best suited for a platform like Medium while a video cast may find itself more at home on YouTube or Facebook.
- Be Picky: Don’t flood your Twitter feed just because you can. Only share things that are truly valuable and useful to readers and ensure that you’re abiding by content marketing best practices.
- Inspire Your Audience to Act: What are you going to do with all the new freedom afforded by the lack of a character limit? You’re going to write astounding CTAs, of course! To take full advantage of the new long form content, include an award-winning CTA at the end. A great CTA tells your reader what to do next and is an effective marketing strategy that will translate well to Twitter.
Although nobody quite knows what Twitter’s new long form platform will look like just yet, you can trust that we’ll keep you posted as this develops. In the meantime, visit the Express Writers blog to learn more about how you can write better content in preparation for your big long form Twitter debut.
Julia McCoy is a top 30 content marketer and has been named an industry thought leader by several publications. She enjoys making the gray areas of content marketing clear with practical training, teaching, and systems. Her career in content marketing was completely self-taught. In 2011, she dropped out of college to follow her passion in writing, and since then grew her content agency, Express Writers, to thousands of worldwide clients from scratch. Julia is the author of two bestselling books on content marketing and copywriting, and is the host of The Write Podcast. Julia writes as a columnist on leading publications and certifies content strategists in her training course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia lives in Austin, Texas with her daughter, husband, and one fur baby.