According to Recode Twitter is releasing a new product that will allow users and brands to publish content that exceed the current 140 character limit of the native Twitter timeline.
Most of the Internet including yours truly originally took this news to mean the Twitter timeline we love would become a bloated mess. And from a user perspective we expected this feature would drive us away. The current Twitter timeline isn’t built or designed for long form. It would take forever to scroll through someone’s late-night alcohol-fueled post-breakup novella. Let alone a verbose poorly written brand statement about their most recent social media gaff.
But this is not the case according to that article. This will be a new product possibly akin to the recently released Moments. We are betting this new feature, like Moments, will be accessible via Twitter’s mobile apps and desktop.
But long form on Twitter is exciting to think about from a marketing point of view. When your strategic research is founded in proven best practices, long form Twitter could be a marketer’s and brand’s dream come true. We will have a new and exciting way to reach users, fans, and followers that is less limiting; allowing us to craft more engaging stories and inspire deeper consumer actions.
You might be asking, “But why is Twitter doing this?”
The 1985 Global System for Mobile Communication set the character limits on text messages at 160 characters. When Twitter launched in 2006, they set the limit at 140 leaving 20 characters for the username. This allowed the tweet to be delivered in one complete text message rather than multiple messages.
But the mobile technology we use every day has evolved far past those early days and Twitter needs to grow to help people (and advertisers) tell their story and share more information. For example, Twitter made a play on native texting earlier this year when they removed the character limitations in Direct Messages.
At the end of the day Twitter is a publically traded company with shareholders to please. Twitter has a highly vested interest in making its platforms and products are more engaging to stimulate its lagging growth and increase use to turn a profit for their investors.
So here is the 140 million dollar question. Will long form Twitter increase engagement and the user base? Probably. At least when the feature is first launched. But we have to also remember that other social platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn have had the long form corner of the social web locked up for a long time.
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