Twitter drops and gives you 23 (extra characters)

Loosen your ties and lean back in your chairs, PR pros. Twitter is giving you more room for your message!

In a long-awaited announcement this week, Twitter revealed its revised character limits. From now on (well, at least until the next change) your brand’s news isn’t penalized by additional multimedia content. Until now, Twitter restricted message length if your update had a photo, video, GIF, or poll. As of September 19th, those multimedia items don’t count against your update’s length. This is big news for people who want to be eloquent and clear in their Twitter content, like PR pros working on behalf of clients.

What can you do with that extra PR real estate? Optimize content for the internet’s hunger for video, for starters. Create a series of Twitter Moments to drive your brand story. Or simply take the space that used to be “stolen” by visual assets and use them to give your tweets solid context. Now that you have room to stretch out, here are tips to help your visual content resonate: 

Video

Did you know that videos online are watched most often without sound? In fact, a study found that on Facebook, 85% of videos are watched on mute. Facebook is addressing this by offering automatic closed captioning (with some hysterical results). Twitter hasn’t gone that far, yet, but keeping in mind where people are watching your brand news (at work, on the sly) you can help by adding closed caption text to each frame.

Images 

In-line photos and GIFs are included in the new updates, which is great news for PR pros. The Twitterverse loves a good infographic, funny GIF, great chart, or shareable quote. Now you don’t have to choose between good grammar or uploading a helpful, interesting imageyou can have both.

Moments

“What is a “Moment”? It’s a curated feed of current happenings around an event, theme or topic on Twitter. It can be based around a trending topic, event, or newsworthy update. Now, Twitter is giving creators the ability to curate Moments that arise around their shared content, provided there is enough engagement. You’ll be able to check a box and choose which tweets about your content will go in your Moment. For PR pros this gives you the ability to tell your brand story in real-time while your content is being shared. Visual content like the video, GIFs, and images we’ve talked about, tends to get preferential curation in Moments. 

Twitter Live

This feature, launched this summer, allows Twitter to work with brand partners (first up, the NFL) to offer live-streaming during their events. What makes this a killer feature, especially in light of the expanded space for visual content, is the way this service pulls in live Tweets during events. Savvy advertisers, viewers, and PR pros can now be part of the real-time conversation around a video event. By creating relevant GIFs or images to share during these events, you can gain more traction for your clients. It’s a promising new direction for Twitter (and for you)!

What didn’t change

What didn’t change is the uselessness of PDFs. Some PR pros (or more likely, some risk-averse clients) still want to upload PDFs to Twitter. So many people are now viewing Twitter (and Facebook, as well as other social platforms) via mobile devices. Journalists don’t want to read a PDF on the small screen of their phone or tablet, or a standard press release with no images or videos to entertain them on their commute. Instead, create an interactive press release. (If you have a budget, Twitter Cards are great for this purpose. They let you add lead conversion and purchase options right in the Twitter feed!)

What might change

Twitter has hinted that user handles and links might not count against the post length limit in the near future. You can bet that if this comes to fruition they will put guardrails on them to prevent @ and link spam. Additionally, Twitter has been slowly adding features to help users fight harassment. These features can also be used to mute brand messages, so be useful or entertaining at all times to ensure people keep seeing your messages in their feeds!

5 Takeaways

  • Add subtitles to your videos to increase your percentage watched
  • Use helpful images, like infographics, to retain user attention and gain user trust
  • Use humor, such as a GIF, to surprise or delight your followers
  • Consider paying for Twitter Ads like Twitter Cards to get measurable ROI on your news
  • Curate a Moment of shareable images and relevant community content, to increase your brand reach

 

This is the first installment in our new monthly series about the social media platforms that we utilize in our work as PR and marketing professionals. Thanks for reading Social Media Recap: September 2016 edition.