Making Twitter’s newfound extra characters count

Eulogy in the news

13th October 2016

The now-confirmed news that Twitter will drop the character count on links and images in tweets fills me with both joy and fear. Some brands will embrace the extra space in a positive way and use it to write witty language and share cool motion graphics. Others will see it as a way to fill up our newsfeeds with dull images, poorly written copy and a million retweet and follow competitions.

Instead of tweeting for the sake of having content on your profile, brands should be listening to what people are saying about them, responding with relevant information and keeping tabs on competitors.

I still see brands missing opportunities to join in conversations (Red Lobster and Super Bowl being the biggest example of 2016) on Twitter. It’s these basics that need to be mastered in social before brands can run with bigger opportunities and be let loose with extra character counts.

For those of you looking to use the extra 46 characters in a positive way, here are my recommendations to keep your followers happy and your copy to the point.

First up, don’t tweet for the sake of tweeting – if you don’t have something valuable to say to your followers, then don’t say it. Over-tweeting can be detrimental to a brand and run the risk of losing followers. As the saying goes, less is more.

Get creative with your copy. You might have a strong image or amazing piece of video content but if your wording is dull, full of terms and conditions or too salesy, no one will interact with it.

Look into Twitter analytics and find out your brand’s best posting times and days of the week then make sure you are tweeting at those times while continuing to test others.

Keep your eyes peeled on trending news and topics – hash tags are an excellent way of joining in organic conversations and putting your brand at the top of search results. Being proactive to upcoming calendar dates and news hooks is also a great way to be seen.

Content itself is also key to whether a tweet will live or die with your followers. With mobile exceeding desktop for internet access in the UK, traditional piece-to-camera interviews are now a thing of the past. Users scroll through newsfeeds, taking in auto play content and not clicking it to make sound play. Therefore, video needs to be non sound dependent, or include captions to make it clear to people what is going on.

Video content also needs to be short and visually appealing. Brands have one second to capture the attention of a user so always go straight into your content. Forget opening frames, end frames and introducing talent or spokespeople in your video. Captions will do this for you and save a heck of a lot of time. Length needs to be as short as possible – aim for 10 seconds as the norm and 30 seconds maximum if it’s truly needed.

Don’t fill up your tweets with every product or campaign message under the sun – if people want to know more, they will click through. Keep your copy short, to the point and in the style/ tone of voice of your brand.

Finally, use this opportunity to test a range of creative. We know strong images work well on all social channels but Twitter has the current edge for gifs/motion graphics and they are growing in popularity. 3D gifs are really exciting at the moment and are not something many brands are doing. The built-in Twitter gif function is also a great way to utilise free content and get in front of those millennials that seem to be migrating from Twitter to Snapchat.

The above originally featured on The Drum.