|For small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that feel they’ve mastered the art of social media marketing, the recent changes to Twitter may need them to look again at how they promote themselves online. Earlier this month, Twitter increased the number of characters allowed in tweets from 140 to 280 for the majority of users. While brevity has long been seen as one of the platform’s strengths, a test of the 280-character limit threw up some interesting results.
According to Twitter, just 5% of tweets sent were longer than 140 characters, while only 2% exceeded 190 characters. However, test results showed that those who used longer tweets got more engagement and more followers.
So do the changes represent good news for marketers and will they change how they go about using Twitter as a promotional tool?
Don’t feel obliged to use all the characters
The arrival of a 280-character limit might seem new and exciting, but brands should resist the novelty of using them all just for the sake of it. After all, Twitter users still want brief posts that can be easily digested and will turn to blogs, Facebook and LinkedIn for longer-form content. As Michael Galfetti of global communications consultancy APCO Worldwide says: ‘280 characters has not fundamentally changed Twitter. 280 characters should be used sparingly; just because we have that space doesn’t mean we should feel compelled to use it. Save the multi-point arguments for Facebook and keep Twitter snappy and fun.’
It seems that Twitter users are keen to do exactly this. Indeed, Twitter Product Manager Aliza Rosen revealed that during the first few days of testing the new process, many people tweeted the full 280 limit because it was ‘new and novel, but soon after behaviour normalised. We saw when people needed to use more than 140 characters, they tweeted more easily and more often, but importantly, people tweeted below 140 most of the time and the brevity of Twitter remained.’
Longer tweets can save time for marketers
According to figures from Twitter, almost 1 in 10 tweets in English hit the character limits. Ms Rosen believes this reflects the challenge of ‘fitting a thought into a tweet, often resulting in lots of time spent editing and even at times abandoning tweets before sending.’ However, the freedom to use a few extra characters means this no longer needs to happen, thereby freeing up marketers for other tasks. It can also open the door for clearer communications, with brands relying less on awkward abbreviations for the sake of squeezing a complex message into a short space.
Social engagement will increase
Twitter’s tests prior to the official rollout of the 280-character limit showed clear results regarding engagement, with participants getting more likes, retweets, mentions and followers, while people also spent more time on the platform. As Ms Rosen noted: ‘People in the experiment told us that a higher character limit made them feel more satisfied with how they expressed themselves on Twitter, their ability to find good content, and Twitter overall.’
Step up wider promotion of your Twitter page
With the changes in Twitter potentially affecting how you go about using the platform, it’s the perfect time to let your wider target audience know about your channel. So make sure your Twitter handle is featured on everything from display banners and branded notepaper to promotional pens and corporate clothing. At a time when rival firms might also be benefiting from greater engagement with Twitter, it’s essential you let people know that you are active on the social network as well.
Source / Further Reading
Tweeting Made Easier Twitter Blog
How marketers can benefit from Twitter’s new 280 character format Econsultancy