Zehnder Communications, Inc.

Brace Your Brand for the 10,000-Character Tweet

You might have heard rumors that Twitter is about to expand beyond its signature 140-character limit — some predict the platform may allow as many as 10,000 characters within the next few months.

Though we can’t predict the (very likely) future, we can prepare you for it. Keep reading to learn more about this social media shift and learn what you can do to brace your brand for the long-form Tweet.

Some background:

zcomm_Twitter140-02.pngThere are a number of business-related hypotheses on why this change appears to be on the horizon, most of which predict that Twitter is trying to gain ground against other social media platforms as its growth slows.

There are very practical explanations for the anticipated change, too. As CEO Jack Dorsey’s symbolic Tweet explains, Twitter’s 140-character limit simply doesn’t seem to “fit” the platform anymore. The 140-character limit has resulted in a couple of problems: 1) users are working around the limit by tweeting photos of long-form text and 2) the text in these photos are not searchable by search engines. With the ability to post long-form Tweets, both of these issues can be resolved.

What the 10,000-character Tweet means for brands:

Now that you know what might happen to Twitter and why, do you have a game plan in place for your business? We’ve outlined some do's and don'ts to help prepare your brand for the world of the long-form Tweet.

Long-form Tweet: Marketing Do's

zcomm_Twitter140-03.png1. Do: keep it short. Even though Twitter may expand beyond 140 characters, that doesn’t mean that its core purpose as real-time messaging platform will change. Considering that a Tweet’s average lifespan is less than 20 minutes, we wouldn’t recommend that you fill it with words and explanations that would live a lot longer on other platforms (such as your website or within a LinkedIn post).

2. Do: display your brand to its fullest. Having extra space doesn’t mean you should list hundreds of hashtags; however, it does mean that you’ll (finally!) have room to include all of the branding elements you want within a single Tweet. Instead of having to choose between a photo or a hashtag, you’ll be able to include both. Use this new freedom wisely.

3. Do: engage in deeper conversation. The 140-character limit can feel especially limiting for marketers in highly regulated, technical industries like healthcare and finance. We often find that clients in these industries struggle to fit their conversation within current Tweet boundaries. An expanded character count could allow for deeper conversations to take place on Twitter — ultimately leading to increased engagement.

4. Do: know when to take it offline. At the same time, it’s crucial that marketers know when those deeper conversations need to be taken offline. Establish guidelines about what your social media team should and shouldn’t talk about on Twitter before your brand takes a conversation a step too far.

5. Do: broaden your audience. Longer Tweets allow for more content, which can lead to more followers and increased exposure for your brand. As Jack Dorsey reminded us, Tweets are searchable — and with more characters to play with, you’ll be able to embed Tweets with the right keywords and hashtags to attract new followers.

Long-form Tweet: Marketing Don'ts

1. Don't: neglect your website. Although an expanded Tweet will certainly make Twitter a more robust platform, it won’t make it the only platform for your content. Beware of “digital sharecropping” and continue to use Twitter as one of many tools to drive traffic to your own company website.zcomm_Twitter140-01.png

2. Don't: bury the details. We know that Twitter is testing a long-form Tweet platform, but we don’t know what format the expanded Tweet will take if it’s implemented. If we had to guess, Twitter might follow suit behind other platforms like Pinterest and LinkedIn: A “teaser” format where users are only given a short snippet of text before needing to click to expand the rest. With this in mind, it’s important that you put your best and most important content at the top of each Tweet.

3. Don't: post images of text. Posting images of long-form text, rather than publishing the text somewhere else (like a blog or website), is a bad practice to employ today on Twitter. If Twitter rolls out a long-form Tweet, this trend will become an even bigger no-no.

4. Don't: change your brand voice. In the end, the anticipated change to the 140-character Tweet is simply a change in terms of space, not If you’re suddenly granted 140+ characters to work with in the next few months, don’t awkwardly alter your brand voice just to fit the new dimensions.

5. Don't: hate on Twitter. If you’ve worked in social media for six months or six years, there’s one thing you certainly know: Things change fast. If Twitter expands its character count, there won’t be time to backtrack — because each moment you spend looking back is a moment you’re literally missing out on in the future. Prepare yourself now for the change, and have your first 141-character Tweet ready for when the moment comes. In doing so, you’ll be able to stay ahead of the ever-changing conversation on Twitter.

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