The Twitter #280 debate and what it means for brands?

I’m a late adopter to Twitter.  Yes I know, VERY late.  My love affair with social started with Facebook (building tribes through groups was a favourite thing to do), then I sidelined it for Facebook’s younger, prettier sister, Instagram.  The darling of the social media world, it’s still my favourite platform.

But then, this summer, when my business idea took off I had to get a handle on Twitter.

It took a while but I soon figured a way to get my ‘Twitter Voice’ on.  You see, like a character-actor or impersonator, I need to mimic the voice of my clients in an authentic, personable way.  Not always easy but I’d cracked it.   An hour’s stint at a time writing Twitter friendly content, on brand, in the right voice, with the right balance of messages and hashtags.  #winning

And then my Twitter voice got a croak, a tickle, almost a stammer.  You see Twitter has only gone and doubled the character limit.  My sound bites no longer felt right.  I had space to play with.  It felt weird, like an uncomfortable silence.

So, what do you think?  140 or 280-characters, what’s your take on Twitter-gate?

In all seriousness, looking at it from a brand point of view, how should we adapt to the new character limit?  What does it mean for your existing Twitter strategy?

Re-think scheduled tweets

I know some social media peeps who get client sign off on a whole load of tweets and then load them up into Buffer or Hootsuite.  If you work like this, you might want to revisit your content and add in some more words!  Look at your marketing plan and key messages.  Look back on what you found frustrating with the previous 140-character limit, what it stopped you doing or saying, and refresh your messages.

Leverage the power of videos and photos

If you’re feeling a little tongue tied with the change or if you’ve not got time to change up your planned content, why not utilise the power of photos and video?  It’s a shocker to no one that tweets with photos and video are more engaging.  If you’re stuck for words, use pictures instead.

Hashtag heaven?

If you think you’ll prop up your tweets with 140 characters of extra hashtags think again.  No matter what the research says about the optimum number of tweets (it keeps changing but 1-2 is considered better than 3-4), too many hashtags will just look ugly.  And perhaps a little desperate.

Cross-platform creativity

One of the benefits of 140 characters was how a brand had to be creative.  You had to shoehorn your message into a tight sound bite.  With the extra characters it might be tempting (and time-saving) to duplicate your Facebook or Instagram posts to Twitter.  Whatever you do, don’t do this.  For one thing, it looks lazy.  But more than anything it shows that you don’t appreciate the uniqueness of each platform.

Continue to drive traffic to your website

While there’s more opportunity to chat, don’t lose sight of the fact that you want to drive traffic to your website.  Don’t let your URL get lost in too much noise.  Keep tweets short, sweet and to the point.

Finally, listen up        

For content creators, the 280-character limit may be seen as an opportunity to ‘go large’,  double up, go crazy.  Be mindful of this as not everyone is thrilled out it.  So keep an eye and an ear out for what people on Twitter are saying and create content with caution.