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What Twitter’s Change in Character Count Could Mean for Social Media Marketers

Posted on May 24th, 2016
Written by TopRank Marketing
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    Last week, Bloomberg gave digital marketers everywhere a reason to celebrate. Citing a source close to the matter, Bloomberg reported that Twitter will soon stop including photos and links as part of their 140-character limitgiving users the ability to craft longer messages. While Twitter Inc. declined to comment, Bloomberg’s source reportedly said the change would be taking place in as soon as two weeks.

    Cue the music!

    Launch the confetti!

    Let the chanting of “Hooray!” begin!

    Over the last few months, many marketers have been on the lookout for changes to the platform after word got out that the company was thinking about increasing the character limit to 10,000. Some argued that a change of that magnitude could cause Twitter to lose something that sets it apart from other social networks. So, this news definitely shows Twitter’s commitment to the 140 characters, as well as a commitment to giving users more flexibilitywhich means more opportunities for marketers to effectively reach their audience.

    Let’s take a dive into some of the biggest opportunities for social media marketers. 

    #1 – Being able to say just a little bit more.

    Currently, tweets with links have a character limit of 117 since Twitter automatically alters links to 23 characters. For tweets with just photos, that limit is 118. For tweets that include an image and a link, the character limit is 95. If this change happens, that means that marketers will have 23 to 45 more characters to create a compelling message.

    #2 – More room for sharing visuals.

    Visuals are becoming increasingly important for social media marketing. In fact, 71% of marketers use visual assets in their social media marketing, according to Social Media Examiner’s 2015 Social Media Marketing Industry Report. Images, videos and live streaming add new dimension to your tweets and removing images from the character limit equation will make it easier for marketers to include more visuals in their tweets.

    #3 – Better live event coverage.

    Whether you’re live tweeting at an industry event or hosting a live Twitter chat for your brand, you need to be quick on your feet. And if you’re using photos and links to support what you’re seeing or the thoughts you’re trying to get across, the extra character room can take some of the pressure off.

    #4 – Marketers and brands could find a new audience.

    For those marketers and brands who have yet to embrace Twitter, this change could make it a little easier to add the platform social media marketing mix. Again, having the additional space to spread your message takes some of the pressure off—and gives you the opportunity to experiment with what works best for your brand.

    Best Practices for Writing Awesome Tweets

    While this change would give marketers more tweet real estate, 140 characters doesn’t exactly offer enough space to write a novel. So, marketers need to keep their creative thinking caps on. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind when you’re creating your messages:

    Find your formula. When promoting content on Twitter, you need to be able to condense it all into a snackable size that will encourage people to click and share. And depending on your audience, you may need to experiment a bit to see which formula is just right for their tastes. One of my favorites is: “To Achieve X, Take Y Action.” This gives the audience a little taste of something they can accomplish, and can drive them to click through to read the how-to.

    Use action verbs where relevant. Find. Discover. Learn. Read. See. All of these words are meant to inspire action and provide your audience with the signal to do something.

    Use relevant hashtags. Hashtags are an essential component of the tweet formula. Hashtags help your audience navigate trending topics and how marketers can identify specific campaigns. Use the Twitter search function to do your research or try out tools such as

    Understand what hashtags mean. There are entire late night skits dedicated to the absurd use of hashtags, so don’t overdo it and make sure that hashtags mean what you think they mean by using #tagdef as part of your research. 

    Mention others’ handles where appropriate. Mentioning other tweeters in your social messaging is a fantastic way to encourage content amplification. This is especially important for promoting any content that you’ve co-created with thought leaders or influencers.

    Properly size your image. For in-stream photos, images should 440 x 220 to ensure that it’s seen the way you want it to be. (Note: Optimal image sizes are unique for each social network. Take a peek at HubSpot’s ultimate cheat sheet of image sizes.)

    Remember that less can still be more. Just because you have 140 characters to work with, that doesn’t mean you have to use them all. Generally speaking, 120 characters is a good target to shoot for.

    How will this change to Twitter affect your social media marketing? Tell us in the comments section below.

    Header image via Shutterstock