Seeing double

In case you missed it, Twitter recently shook things up a bit. Since the social networking service was created in 2006, it has enforced a 140 character limit on Tweets. Back in simpler times, this was meant to allow users to Tweet via SMS text message. Users were forced to keep their thoughts short and sweet, and often had to edit or delete parts of their thoughts to keep them under the limit.

Last week, Twitter doubled the character limit for Tweets to 280. This caused an uproar among users who complained that Twitter is damaging its brand by changing the fundamentals of the service it provides. People knew and loved Twitter for the brevity of news and opinions on their feed, and now they are being bombarded with double the information.

Why Twitter moved to 280

Many are asking why Twitter would do such a thing. According to a blog post written by a Twitter employee, there’s a pretty logical reason behind the big change.

Analysis conducted by Twitter found that close to 10% of Tweets written in English hit the 140 character limit, whereas Tweets written in Japanese reach 140 characters less than 1% of the time. If an English-speaking user and Japanese-speaking user were to Tweet the same thought, the Japanese-speaking user could do it in about half the characters because of the structure of their language.

Additionally, Twitter also found that users Tweeting in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean are also likely to Tweet more frequently. They believe this is because these users are not as restricted by the character limit, and are free to express their thoughts unhindered by the 140 limit.

Because of these findings, Twitter chose to increase the character limit to 280 in most languages. Twitter is losing users, and they have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders to keep users Tweeting. They claim this will allow their users to express their thoughts without the need to cram, and encourage them to Tweet more often.

Early results

Back in September, Twitter tested the 280 character limit using a small group of users. Even with their newfound freedom, only 5% of Tweets from these users totaled over 140 characters. Additionally, only 2% of these users Tweeted anything over 190 characters.

What does this mean for marketers?

Many marketers rejoiced at the news. Twitter is making moves to encourage more users to join, and to keep current users engaged. More users means a larger audience for brands to share their content with. Additionally, it allows for more freedom in writing marketing messages. Now, brands don’t need to stress about adding an extra user’s handle or campaign hashtag at the end of a Tweet. What could go wrong?

A lot, actually. Many marketers are worried that longer tweets will mean watered down messages and a diluted Twitter feed. If Twitter is correct and the 280 character limit will encourage people to Tweet more, brands will have a lot more content to compete with. It could eventually become difficult for brands to pop up organically in people’s feeds because of the greater amount of content. Couple that with Twitter’s algorithmic timeline that no longer feeds content chronologically, and you have a real problem trying to connect with your audience.

Smart Twitter strategies

All of these changes have created an environment in which marketers need to invest time and a lot of money in order to reach their consumers. Gone are the days where brands could simply craft clever and relevant content to interact with their audience. Now, in order to reach your consumers, you need to create an innovative advertising strategy. Since it is becoming more difficult to reach people organically, smart strategies involve some form of promoted ads.

Promoted Tweets

Businesses can pay to display promoted Tweets to people who do not already follow them on Twitter. These Tweets can appear in targeted users’ timelines, in their search results, and in their Twitter app. This type of ad is great for telling users who aren’t familiar with your brand about a special offer or promotion.

Promoted Accounts

Brands who are looking for more followers that fit their target market profile can promote their Twitter account. After narrowing down their potential audience, these brands can pay to have their account displayed on users’ timelines and in their ‘Who to Follow’ suggestions.

Promoted Trends

Twitter displays topics that are being talked about most at a specific time in their ‘Trends for You’ section. Brands who want to spread the word about a specific event or idea can promote a hashtag to a group of users. The hashtag will appear at the top of their ‘Trends for You’ section. If clicked, Twitter will then show a promoted Tweet from your brand. This type of ad is great because if users decide to use your hashtag, you will gain additional exposure.

Benefits of advertising on Twitter

Advertising on Twitter has a lot of benefits. According to Twitter, 66% of users have discovered a new small or medium sized business on Twitter, and 94% of those people plan to purchase from those businesses in the future. Additionally, 69% of people say that they made a purchase because of content they saw on Twitter. If you’re looking for a way to improve your advertising strategy, Twitter is a great place to start. If you have questions or would like to learn more about how to integrate Twitter ads into your marketing strategy, give us a call, we're happy to help