Twitter announced this week that we can now use 280 characters instead of just 140 in a tweet. The reactions are mixed from some users being very excited about it to others complaining that all they wanted was an edit button. My reaction, what difference does doubling the character count make if you have nothing of value to say?
140 Love / Hate
I have a love / hate relationship with the 140 characters. Anyone who knows me, knows I’m unable to say something in a short and sweet way. I tell stories. Guess what? I loved Twitter for forcing me to be precise and say what I mean without any embellishment.
What got annoying for me was losing characters to URLs and images. Thus, having to shorten sentences and contort the English language to txt spk to make it work... I like words fully spelled out #oldschool. So that’s that bit I hated about 140 characters.
Exciting times for me! I get to spell out words and full sentences! Hold up…
Nothing to say
...My love / hate relationship with Twitter goes further. I love that I can find great content there, start conversations especially at events and get news in real time. The flipside of that is the amount of shouting out of offers and brand messages that don’t have me (or any audience) in mind. Now, with 280 characters, are we simply going to get longer “all about me” messages?
Twitter best practice
Regardless of the increase in characters, to be successful on Twitter (i.e. achieve engagement and leads), the best practice rules still apply:
1. Short tweets still perform best
We’ve seen in the past that tweets with 110-120 characters perform best. This is unlikely to change overnight. Consider that text based tweets often get retweeted more. If this is your goal for the message, then work keep working with limited characters.
2. Encourage engagement and conversation
Ask questions to your audience, tag influencers and others in your network and therefore encourage conversations and real engagement. Add call-to-actions if you want your audience to take action. Just remember, it has to of value to them.
3. Good content helps you stand out
Twitter gets a lot of “all about me” messages and brands are notorious for shouting out messages. Good tweets can find it difficult to stand out. Take your great content and share it (even multiple times) but always pointing out the value for the audience.
4. Share the good news
If there is something going on in your industry, network, amongst your influencers or customers, share their good news. Retweet, comment and start conversations. This will show that you have your finger on the pulse of your industry as well as increasing engagement on your own tweets.
5. Hashtags should be used sparingly
#We #now #have #280characters. But, that doesn’t mean they all have to be hashtags. Limit your usage as research has shown that tweets with one or two hashtags perform better than those with more. But in a bit of research to find the tags that suit your business most and that are already in use.
6. Image and video help you stand out
Images and videos in your posts help you stand out in your audience’s timeline. This doesn’t mean to use any image for the sake of it. Make sure to use relevant images and check whether you have the right format. Lots of text on an image can backfire (can you read all that on your mobile Twitter feed?).
7. Make it part of your inbound strategy
Social media and with that Twitter of course should be part of your inbound marketing strategy. It firmly sits in the attract stage where you aim to attract the right audience to your site. Therefore, your social strategy should fit with your personas, their buyer’s journey and your content strategy.
Most of all, consider your audience. Be helpful and provide content for them (not about you) regardless of character count.