Making the most of the full 140 characters

Submitted by on the 24th of May 2016

It’s always exciting when a social network makes a significant change to its platform and, given the latest news from Twitter, there’s a lot to be excited about.

The social network famed for its strict character count is going to stop counting links and images in tweets, and user handles when replying. The news saw mass rejoice from social media managers around the world. As any social copywriter will tell you, countless hours are wasted on trying to cut down copy to make space for links and images while trying to maintain a post’s integrity.

The extra characters mean a million more ways to tell a story, and we all know how valuable even one character is. You can drop the use of “&” in place of “and”, you don’t have to trawl to find a similar word of fewer characters, and you don’t have to shave off whole words ‘til your tweet is raw. Now, you have just a bit more space to convey the personality of your brand in every tweet. Your brand’s vocabulary is vital to its differentiation, and having to forego that in order to fit everything in was painful.

In customer service, this news will have community managers jumping for joy. Links and images often help CMs convey information, but then they have less room to provide context. Extra characters when responding to a customer is equivalent to a world of information. However, CMs in charge of customer service will need to familiarise themselves with the new rules of @mentions and replies that start with a @username – it is important for CMs to be aware of which responses will be seen by all your followers, and which will only be seen by the intended audience.

At the same time, the extra space doesn’t mean you have to use it all. You’ve probably heard one of the many idioms about saying more by saying less, and there’s truth in that. After all, we don’t use all 60 000 characters available to us on Facebook. If the point of your tweet is to direct people to a link, then a catchy headline and call to action will do the job effectively. If you can make your point clearly and effectively with less words, then do so. In the end, your platform strategy combined with the objective of the tweet should define the use of space.

While the news is big, things won’t change too drastically. It’s ultimately allowing you to be more effective in your communication without having to sacrifice too much creativity and concept. Twitter is going back to basics. They’re going back to what had the most effect on the way we communicate when they launched – microblogging, 140 characters of copy – which is what we fell in love with.

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