It finally happened. And tweets went out.
Some users are happy, others far from it. But, love it or hate it, Twitter has now doubled the character limit on tweets. Back in September of 2017, The New York Times posted that Twitter would be testing the doubling of its 140-character limit. Twitter execs understood that not everyone was emotionally on board:
We understand since many of you have been tweeting for years, there may be an emotional attachment to 140 characters. But we tried this, saw the power of what it will do, and fell in love with this new, still brief, constraint. (Source: The New York Times)
While some users, like Stephen Colbert, are worried that their feeds will now become clogged with extended politics, the change comes with opportunity.
And in one stroke, Twitter doubles the complexity of our nation’s foreign policy.
— Stephen Colbert (@StephenAtHome) September 27, 2017
After all, in the social media and content marketing world, more room for expression is a good thing, right. So, how can you get on board and make the best use of your now 280 characters?
Tweet a better story.
Storytelling is important for both brands and freelancers. It draws people to why you do what you do. The longer limit gives you more room to share and draw people into your content.
Telling your brand’s story on Twitter is a fantastic way to connect with your audience on an emotional level. It goes beyond describing features and touting price. Storytelling is about passion – passion for a product, a service, a customer story, employees… whatever the core of the story is about. – Lauren Dugan, Adweek
Start with the three important elements of a good, short story: strong character, conflict, and resolution. You can create a series of mini-stories with your own branded hashtag. Then use Twitter Moments to gather your stories together. Or, perhaps create a poem to share your message.
What majesty should be, what duty is,
Why day is day, night night, and time is time
Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time.
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief.
— Folger Library (@FolgerLibrary) November 13, 2017
Storytelling is an art. Twitter can help you practice.
Make it short and sweet.
Testimonials make great short stories for your brand, too. Pull a client testimonial from your website and show off the greatness of your brand. Try it on Tuesdays with #TestimonialTuesday. Potential clients love to see social proof.
“Working with Lori Hil is a joy! She creates great and impactful content in a timely manner and is in-touch with the brand message. Easily able to adjust voice and tone to stay true to the brand whether in social media or blog posts.” https://t.co/I9Q1ttqIhg #TestimonialTuesday
— Lori Hil (@lorihil) November 14, 2017
Use a summary formula.
Take your latest blog post or article and summarize it. Go through your articles and posts and select the top point from each section. Pull them all together to create an engaging tweet.
The approach works well for videos, too. Use your video script outlines and select your top points. Share the video on Twitter with the main points from your transcript to get your audience craving more. Tell viewers to add the video to their watchlist for later. This allows you to offer immediate value in the tweet and entices viewers to dive into the full content when they have time.
Longer summaries are also super useful when you want to tweet about a contest or event. Rebekah Radice shares just what this master class is all about:
You hold the power to grow a thriving #business! The Power of You, a 2-day Masterclass, will show you how to stop the hustle, find your focus, build a thriving company, and live life on your OWN terms: https://t.co/xK52WfMXEs #marketing #sassu pic.twitter.com/M8TBPxeyfI
— Rebekah Radice (@RebekahRadice) November 14, 2017
It’s a great space to summarize your list posts. Share the first few numbers in your list and then tell viewers to click the link for more. Which brings us to…
Up your CTA game.
The old limit made it very challenging to share your message and a good call-to-action. Two-word CTAs like “click here” or “read this” were the norm. That’s okay, but maybe you want your readers to do something more. Now you can be more engaging.
An effective CTA on any platform has three important components:
- It speaks directly to the target audience.
- It uses clear, compelling, and actionable copy.
- It is placed wisely.
As I wrote in a previous article, the call-to-action copy presents a point of decision. Try to be objective as you read the copy you are writing. If you knew nothing of your offer, would you be compelled to answer the call? Are the directions easy to follow?
Peg Fitzpatrick, the social media Queen, uses multiple CTAs, utilizing the longer limit, in this Tweet:
The Pre-Registration for the #MAKEWAVES contest is open! https://t.co/JGcxytU9GJ
1. Create Amazing Videos for Every Social Platform
2. Share Them Using #makewaves Hashtag
3. Win Fantastic Prizes
Pre-register to stay updated!#videomarketing #socialmedia #SMM #ad pic.twitter.com/UtxcHtif48
— Peg Fitzpatrick (@PegFitzpatrick) November 14, 2017
She combines it with a video for a super engaging post. Who doesn’t want to take action on that!
Get creative with formatting.
Having more room for expression means that you can get creative with your formatting to stand out on the Twitter feed. Check out this example from Taco Bell. The original tweet clearly reads “TACO” in tacos (how clever); however, the formatting does not carry over correctly to the embedded tweet (below). Bug or oversight? We don’t know. Either way, always double-check your final results.
— Taco Bell (@tacobell) November 9, 2017
Longer tweets will likely lead to overwhelm for the viewer’s eye. This can leave people quickly scrolling past. Stop the scroll by creating breaks for the eye. You can do this by placing your texts on multiple lines instead of running it all together, by using hashtags throughout, and by using multiple emojis.
Auckland Transport makes use of lines and emojis in a clever way in this tweet:
90 million public transport trips this past year.
13,756 people cycled the Lightpath in October.
Average of 37,500 people went through Britomart each day in October.
171 train carriages on the network.
280 characters for us to chat to you in now #280Characters
— Auckland Transport (@AklTransport) November 12, 2017
Travel Itinerary in #280Characters:
Watch the sunrise from a treehouse in Bali.
Bike Bangkok’s bamboo nature trails with your host.
Train like a true samurai in a traditional dojo.
Make your way home.
— Airbnb (@Airbnb) November 9, 2017
Balance it out.
Just because you may now use 280 characters does not mean you have to or always should. Sometimes there is power in brevity. Mix up your tweets. Try tweets with videos and pictures. Longer tweets and shorter tweets. Do not overstuff your tweets with unneeded gobbledygook (I think that’s the technical term), just to use up space. And do not overstuff with hashtags either. It’s not Instagram. Basic Twitter best practices still apply.
Do not allow the longer limit to let your copy get sloppy. Take the time to craft your message. Check in with your analytics and see what tweets perform the best with your audience.
Sometimes less is more. Sometimes more is more. (Sounds like a tweetable, and it’s less than 140 characters.)
Your turn: What do you think about the new limit? Be sure to tag @ClearVoice when you share this post with #280Characters. See you on Twitter.