Twitter recently announced a product update, allowing a small number of select accounts to test an increase in character limit from 140 to 280. The primary reason behind the modification is to “level the tweet field” across languages. Tweets in Japanese, Chinese and Korean, for example, can say much more in half the amount of characters than other languages, including English. But while a higher character limit might seem like a blessing for all, don’t get too excited just yet. I’m not convinced it’s a positive enhancement for everyone – and I’m not the only one; the update has not been welcomed with universal acclaim thus far. Twitter doubling its character limit has implications for B2B social media strategy, and this new functionality should be regarded with caution.
There are benefits for personal and corporate users. Individuals can share more: divulge stories about their day, reflect on current events, vent about their latest annoyance. Brands can communicate more information to their followers, provide extra details about company announcements, events and promotions, and include additional calls to action. And both types of users can reap the benefits of including more popular hashtags with less character constraints.
However, there are other implications to consider in relation to brand messaging and Twitter’s new 280-character limit.
280-Character Limit: Blessing or Curse For B2B Social Media Strategy?
Ever-Shrinking User Attention Span
Your target audience has a shrinking attention span. According to Microsoft’s latest study, the average human attention span is shorter than a dazed goldfish. Users tend to skim content quickly and move on, regardless of a character limit. Twitter’s social audience favors concise snippets of information that are easy to read and digest. And let’s not forget that increasing the character limit requires more effort – for brands creating the content and users who will now have excess content to filter and scroll through.
Just because you have more space available to you doesn’t mean you should use it. The 140-character constraint kept brands’ messages short and sweet; it forced creativity. There is so much truth in the “less is more” axiom. Tweets are meant to be quick and witty, not lengthy and verbose.Tweets are meant to be quick and witty, not lengthy and verbose.Click To Tweet
Impact on Social Media Analytics
More length isn’t better when it comes to social analytics either. Longer tweets will not result in more impressions if brands are still publishing the same number of posts. In fact, engagement metrics will most likely decrease because brands’ Twitter audiences are less likely to read all of the content included within the longer posts, resulting in less likes and retweets.
Altered Customer Interactions
Metrics aside, as a result of the product update, brands will also face differences in how they’re interacting with audiences on Twitter. For better or worse, customers will now have more room to share their experiences with the brand and respond to corporate messaging. We can hope for more compliments and favorable stories, but chances are we’ll also see an uptick in complaints and negativity that will be harder to ignore and reconcile. Regardless of sentiment, customer interactions will require more attention in a company’s B2B social media strategy.
The new Twitter character limit may be seen as more of a curse than a blessing for communications professionals managing their organization’s social media strategy. If the product update is rolled out widely, proceed with caution. After all, communications plans, inclusive of social media strategy, should always be created with target audiences in mind. And if the target audiences crave concise, digestible messaging, then that’s what brands need to deliver – regardless of whether tweets are bound by 140 characters or 280.