It was reported yesterday by Re/code that Twitter is considering lengthening its 140 character limit to 10,000 characters. The reports are so far unconfirmed by Twitter but sources have reported the plans are being referred to as “Beyond 140”.
The news has been widely met with anguish and outrage from Twitter users, with only a few acknowledging the possibilities the change can offer.
— Laundrapp (@laundrapp) January 6, 2016
A lot of people are moaning about #Twitter10k, but I think it’ll be a good thing. And here’s why… (1/37)
— Limmy (@DaftLimmy) January 6, 2016
But the question is, how will this alleged change affect business marketing? Will customers be more inclined to interact when businesses can post articles straight into a tweet? The 140 character limit has forced businesses to make an effort in their Twitter marketing by condensing a sales pitch, so how will a lengthy tweet sit with potential customers?
The Business Side
Posting articles straight into a tweet is bittersweet for businesses. Customers can see it without having to click a link, so they’ll be more likely to engage. However, customers can see it without having to click a link… which means less traffic for your site, as well as having content published on a site that isn’t yours. This is a good tactic by Twitter, by getting people to stay on their site for longer rather than follow through to others.
The brevity of the tweet is the essence of the platform – and the restriction for businesses means you can’t spam people’s timelines with thoughtless posts (although automated replies and direct messages try their best to). So in reality, users like you a little bit better. Twitter was the ultimate way for the beginning of the transparent company; users get to know what your mission is, and if they agree with you, they’re on board.
— Gemma Lawrence (@TudorTweep) January 6, 2016
Twitter has reportedly said that although the character limit would expand, the Twitter timeline would stay the same. Users must click on tweets to expand them and see the full 10,000 characters. This is great as the appearance of your tweets will be the same to customers, and you can keep it to 140 characters if you really want to.
With the change being met by such an unwelcome response from Twitter users, it’s unlikely that they’d enjoy being inundated by essays from companies trying to sell their product. So the fact the timeline remains the same is a small joy to celebrate.
The main thing to remember is that it’s really interaction you’re gaining with Twitter, rather than instant sales. With this in mind, your marketing strategy should change with the customer. If customers begin writing longer tweets, then you can too, but if they keep it short then stick with them.
A longer character limit would allow customers with queries to describe their issue, allowing businesses to be able to offer further advice without having to ask the customer for details. This would be less time consuming for both parties and a longer reply would offer a customer more peace of mind that the business is taking their query seriously.
However, this would also increase the possibility of more automated messages. This may be time-saving, but also makes you seem less personable to customers – which is exactly what customers like about Twitter, they’re able to see the other side of their favourite brands, and build relationships with them.
The ability to provide more information to customers has positives and negatives. Some customers would like to learn more about the businesses they follow on Twitter, but often this is only because they enjoy the quick witted 140 character tweets that make the brands so personable. Twitter users have spoken out about how we already have Facebook for this purpose. Why change something when we already have the means to do it?
Many people moved away from Facebook and gravitated towards Twitter because of the character restrictions; it forces people to be witty and is simple to read. In the movement towards ephemeral technology, this experiment may mean a big step back for Twitter. A longer form of Twitter would mean less interaction with companies, as customers are less likely to read 10,000 character tweets.
— Stu Kennedy (@stukennedymusic) January 6, 2016
In our opinion, keep the 140! Business marketing would change dramatically with a 10,000 word limit, and not necessarily for the better. The customer business relationship has been strengthened by Twitter’s 140 limit, and rambling posts will only discourage customers from interacting with brands.
What are your thoughts? Should Twitter stick to the 140 character limit? Or do you have more to say? Leave a comment in the section below!