Twitter is toying with the idea of increasing the character limit of tweets to 10,000, more than 72 times the existing limit. Why would the “micro-blogging” platform take away one of its only unique characteristics in the ever-crowded social media space?
One word: MONEY.
Over the past 10 years, Twitter’s popularity (and stock price) has fluctuated; for a long time, the little blue bird held its own amidst social networks and blogging platforms, and then more recently fell behind the pack. Shareholders are increasingly concerned with Twitter’s ad revenue.
For marketers, Twitter provides a useful avenue to drive users to your website or app; with one click, users can navigate directly to your content, comment on your posts, share that great article with friends, etc. But herein lies the problem for Twitter – it is constantly driving users away from its own site. When users leave the platform, Twitter loses potential ad revenue.
Increasing the tweet character count to 10,000 is Twitter’s way of keeping users on its site. The longer people stay on Twitter’s domain or within the mobile app, the more time Twitter has to sell those impressions to advertisers.
Long-form content has steadily increased in popularity – from its SEO benefits to social media prevalence; this is especially true for brands and publishers – just take a look at Medium and Facebook’s new Instant Articles. In the below graph from Google Trends, we see the popularity of long-form content around the web, building momentum in mid-2014 and continuing on through 2015. The sharp decline at the end of the graph represents partial data from January 2016.
What should brands do about the potential character limit increase?
As with any new platform or feature, testing is key; you can’t pull a strategy from thin air. Think back to the fundamentals of strategy – a coherent narrative of methods and decisions executed to achieve a goal. The coherent narrative is the defining factor. To determine the methods and decisions that feed into your strategy, you must test. Find out what works for your brand. It’s not always the same as what works for others.
Lets take a look at this Buzzfeed article. It was posted via Facebook Instant Articles (only available to see/link on Facebook) and also natively on Buzzfeed’s site. The article published on Buzzfeed’s domain was shared three times as often as the Facebook Instant Article version.
Bottom line? #Twitter10k is Twitter’s latest attempt to make more money from its advertisers and quell shareholder dissatisfaction with ad revenue. Smart marketers will keep tabs on new developments and test what works for their brands as new capabilities become available.
Senior Marketing Analyst