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The Twitter 280 Characters Update and When Social Marketers Should Use It

The Twitter 280 Characters Update and When Social Marketers Should Use It

The Twitter 280 characters update has been widely panned.

I’d like to make the argument that the 280-character update is valuable and won’t necessarily result in audience annoyance and subsequent unfollows. Here’s the caveat: think of this update as an opportunity to go over 140 characters, not carte blanche to use all 280 out of 280 characters. 

This update gives you more space and flexibility, but don’t forget about one of Twitter’s main benefits from the very beginning: it forces you to edit down what you want to say into a smaller, more effective package. This kind of self-editing makes every marketer better.

When You’re Running or Participating in a Twitter Chat

Every week on Thursdays at 11 AM PST, Simply Measured holds a Twitter chat known as #SimplyChat. Another exciting thing happened recently, too—our social media manager was asked to be the guest on Twitter Business’s weekly Twitter chat.

In both these scenarios, our social media manager’s job was made a helluva lot easier by being able to explain things in one tweet instead of 3-4.

It’s important to pack your point into one tweet during a Twitter chat because of the fast-paced environment. If you use too many tweets to get your point across, it’ll get lost in the chat.

—Laurie Nilo, Social Media Manager, Simply Measured

It doesn’t mean Laurie isn’t careful and intentional about how she responds, but it does mean that she can tell her story in a more cohesive way, in one place—often in a way that is clearer to our Twitter audience.

When You Need to Share More Information or Context

Maybe you’re running a contest and want to share all the terms and conditions up front.

Maybe you have an event coming up and want to include all the information in text instead of tweeting an image with all the information.

Maybe you’re releasing a product line that you don’t want to make people click through to understand.

Side note: This update is a smart way for Twitter to keep us all interacting, engaging, and learning on their platform, instead of leaving to visit websites for further details.

When You Want to Commemorate a Milestone

You shouldn’t write in paragraphs constantly, but the #280Character count can really come in handy when you want to commemorate an event that is important to your brand, and use white space to make a point.

The 280-character count is also worth leveraging among your influencers—how can they share expanded perspectives on your brand, product, or industry topic using a little more space? One way to think of the 280-character count is, when used sparingly and wisely, mini blog posts or condensed pieces of long-form content.

When You’re Planning an Event with Multiple Attendees

Got a big event coming up? Attending a conference?

Tagging more participants in your tweets makes them more likely to tweet back and retweet. This can also be a friendly way to remind your participants that they need to help publicize the event, too. But, in the past, if you had too many participants, you couldn’t include all of them in your copy (unless you wanted to start a thread, which often dilutes the effect). You don’t have that problem anymore.

When You Just Gotta Have Those Line Breaks

I mentioned this a little bit above, but you can use the expanded character count to take advantage of line breaks. You can do this to get playful:

Or to tell a story in dialogue:

Or to place emphasis on individual lines:

Or even to have a little fun:

And remember: sometimes less is more. Consider going in the opposite direction to stand out in feeds as other brands begin to experiment with their new room to grow.

But Don’t Take My Word for It

These are just my opinions and predictions. Don’t take my word for it. Run a test with your own brand, and find your sweet spot. Our social media manager is planning a 140 vs. 280 test in a couple weeks—expect an upcoming blog post with our findings soon.

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Lucy Hitz

I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.

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