The Twitter 280 Characters Update and When Social Marketers Should Use It
The Twitter 280 characters update has been widely panned.
I remember it like it was yesterday. Sometime in the afternoon, the update went through. At first, it was just a trickle, but soon it became the unstoppable current of dumb #280character tweets we all remember. Copy Pastes everywhere. It was then I knew, God had abandoned us…
— Philip DeFranco (@PhillyD) November 8, 2017
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.
A6: Yes! It’s important because, in order to grow, you need to look at how your strategy did in the past. Here’s a strengths and weaknesses checklist that can help! #SimplyChat pic.twitter.com/axbFaPC7pX
— Simply Measured (@simplymeasured) November 9, 2017
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.
If you just want to eat your gingerbread house and not go through the trouble of making it, like this post +RT for a chance to win 7 pints of our latest seasonal flavor, Gingerbread House! 5 Winners will be announced on Friday 11/10. Open to U.S. residents only. pic.twitter.com/PKRoArhKdc
— Halo Top (@HaloTopCreamery) November 9, 2017
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.
The #CMAawards lived up to its billing of "Country's biggest night" with incredible performances & touching moments. @LaraSpencer was backstage and on the red carpet. She'll bring us the highlights from #Nashville this morn @GMA
— Robin Roberts (@RobinRoberts) November 9, 2017
Maybe you’re releasing a product line that you don’t want to make people click through to understand.
Respect is achieved. Respect is given. New #ProjectRock collection from @TheRock + UA is inspired by his admiration for the men and women of the U.S. military. Shop today. 🇺🇸 #USDNA https://t.co/viN0WhfZvQ pic.twitter.com/WtcQ9MSnmY
— Under Armour (@UnderArmour) November 9, 2017
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.
We did not give up, even when we wanted to.
Look to the women in your life and thank them for enduring so much during this past year and for rising up to reclaim their power.
— Paola Mendoza (@paolamendoza) November 8, 2017
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?
TONIGHT at 7:30pm, be a part of a fantastic night of live readings with @ChelseaClinton, @brainpicker, @Jon_Scieszka, @SophieBlackall, @humansofny & Jordan Hewson as we launch @OliverJeffers new book #HereWeAre.
tix: https://t.co/3M2XD2uLON 📚🎟 pic.twitter.com/Fy0HNR3z9p
— Strand Book Store (@strandbookstore) November 9, 2017
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:
Now this is a story all about how
My life got flipped turned upside down
And I'd like to take a minute, just sit right there
I'll tell you how I became the prince of a town called Bel-Air
— Carlos Gil (@carlosgil83) November 9, 2017
Or to tell a story in dialogue:
Asked about the WaPo report:
Cornyn: “I haven’t heard anything about that.”
Would that be concerning to you?
Cornyn: “I’m not going to comment on it until I find out what the details are.”
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) November 9, 2017
Or to place emphasis on individual lines:
A lot of you are probably wearing Everlane today.
Imagine working here.
We've got 26 open roles, so there's a lot of ways to think about the impact you can have with us.
Join our team: https://t.co/PnUwFWOnKN
— Everlane (@Everlane) November 9, 2017
Or even to have a little fun:
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
— Monterey Bay Aquarium (@MontereyAq) November 9, 2017
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.
Leadership comes in levelshttps://t.co/DFOfDHB8B9
— Harvard Biz Review (@HarvardBiz) November 9, 2017
— TRAVIS SCOTT (@trvisXX) November 9, 2017
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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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.