Could you imagine pulling an Oreo cookie out of its sleeve to find four chocolate wafers and two layers of cream filling? Or taking home a six-pack of beer and somehow discovering 12 bottles crammed inside?
It’d be discombobulating to say the least, and that’s how many of us marketers are feeling about Twitter’s recent decision to double its character limit to 280. The 140-character tweet felt as natural and familiar as 10 organic listings on a search engine results page. Now, the game has changed completely.
Bigger isn’t always better, of course. If brands simply take this opportunity to double down on their promotional messaging or stack hashtags, it’s not going to create a better experience for users. The real opportunity, as our Caitlin Burgess explained last month when previewing the Twitter character expansion, “is to discover whether or not you can use that extra space to deliver more value and resonance to your audience.”
Now that the 280-character format has been rolled out in earnest, we thought we’d find a few examples of B2B brands that are taking advantage in creative and exemplary ways. If you’re trying to determine how this alteration can fit within your social media marketing approach, take a cue from the clever uses below.
Quirky Brand Plays
What does your company represent? What’s a gag that only people within your niche will truly understand? The character extension opens up new avenues for playful punnery with your followers.
For instance, this was tech conglomerate Cisco’s first foray into the #280characters hashtag:
01001000 01100001 01110110 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01100001 00100000 01100010 01101001 01110100 00100000 01101101 01101111 01110010 01100101 00100000 01100110 01110101 01101110 00100000 01110111 01101001 01110100 01101000 0001010 #280characters
— Cisco (@Cisco) November 8, 2017
Illumina, a genetic research solutions firm, took a similar tact with this gloriously geeky genome sequence:
gagttttatc gcttccatga cgcagaagtt aacactttcg gatatttctg atgagtcgaa aaattatctt gataaagcag gaattactac tgcttgttta cgaattaaat cgaagtggac tgctggcgga aaatgagaaa attcgaccta tccttgcgca gctcgagaag ctcttacttt gcgacctttc gccatcaact aacgattctg tcaaaaactg acgcgttgga tgagga #280characters ?
— Illumina (@illumina) November 7, 2017
Demonstrate Practical Uses
As a social media management platform, HootSuite is uniquely invested in Twitter’s latest pivot, so when announcing they’d integrated the update for their users, they also showed off a smart way to utilize the extra space:
Great news everyone! Hootsuite users can now tweet with all 280 characters!
That means you can tweet a whole story about owls if you wanted to! ?
Or you can keep it brief. The option is yours! With great power comes great responsibility. Tweet wisely, friends. pic.twitter.com/czq8KbdqZ7
— Hootsuite (@hootsuite) November 10, 2017
One of the imperatives for online writing is to keep blocks of text in short, digestible chunks so that scanning readers won’t gloss over them. As this tweet shows, you can now incorporate that mindset on Twitter.
Add Substance to Your Link Teases
Properly setting up an article link with an informative and compelling tease could be challenging when you only had 120 characters (the link itself, of course, would take up 20). Now, we have much more room to summarize our content and explain why people should click. John Flannery, CEO of General Electric, exemplifies the ability to elaborate with this tweet linking to his investors presentation:
Just finished updating investors on plans for a simpler, stronger, highly focused GE. Unmatched global scale and strength in technology, services, additive & digital. 2018 is about execution. Here’s my presentation: https://t.co/4EYJ9Ml47b
— John Flannery (@JohnFlannery_GE) November 13, 2017
Make Tweets More Diverse and Robust
Admittedly, all-text tweets like the one above are going to cause some users scrolling their feeds to keep on moving; this is a danger of the expanded character count. The beauty of 140 was that it kept everything very bite-sized.
In order to keep people engaged with longer messages, you can incorporate several different elements to make them pop. For example, in the tweet below via Dell’s CSR branch, you’ll find multiple hashtags, a user handle, a link, and an image — all within a complete mini-narrative:
When a parent is deployed, a recorded video of a bedtime story can mean the world to a child. In honor of #VeteransDay weekend, we’re highlighting the unique way @UTR4Military uses #technology to bring #militaryfamilies together: with the power of reading. https://t.co/GQb2DDfwPX pic.twitter.com/0U8QVhE7wN
— Dell Legacy of Good (@Dell4Good) November 9, 2017
Quotes PLUS Descriptions
Under the previous tweeting parameters, we often had to make a decision: pull a quote to generate interest in an article, or include a description of what’s inside? Now, you can do both, as Salesforce shows in this example, where they’re able to both feature a full quote and set up the link while also sprinkling in a couple of emojis and a hashtag:
?? “The race is on to make data science, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and workflows more friendly.” @ZDNet covers the top product announcements coming out of #DF17. https://t.co/glfUGV9vqp
— Salesforce (@salesforce) November 9, 2017
Finally, A Few Things to Keep In Mind
- Don’t feel like you have to use up all 280 characters just because they’re available to you. At the end of the day, Twitter users prefer brevity and that’s why they love the platform.
- In fact, one can argue that it’s now more important than ever to try and condense your message into the shortest possible package. On feeds full of longer tweets, the extremely short ones will stand out even more.
- One of the less talked about aspects of this revamp is that Twitter also expanded the name length for users to 50, up from 20. This opens the door to plenty of new branding possibilities.
How will you make use of all the new real estate on Twitter? This is one key question you should ask before setting your social media strategy. Hopefully these examples and pointers will help you uncover some answers.
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