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Twitter expt jury is out: Snappy brand message or more user insights vs noise

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MUMBAI: We have all tried to cram our thoughts into a single tweet, and it's a pain! You have so much to write about, but the 140-character limit becomes an obstruction.

You just aren't interested, and go and use Facebook, instead.

Twitter has been debating about the increase in the character limit for a long time, and the social media company is now finally testing tweets as long as 280 characters, double the previous limit. However, the feature is only available to a select few at the moment, and is not available in Japanese, Chinese and Korean languages.

But, the move could backfire as much on Twitter as on brands that market on the platform. The 140-character limit ensures that messages on Twitter are concise and put forth the point in the snappiest and the most distilled way. At present, the platform’s biggest problem is its reputation for unpleasant tweets. This gives the ‘Trolls of Twitter’ an undue advantage, one that may take ‘mean tweets’ to a new level.

We saw a synergy in the industry on increased word count, and the experts seem to agree that it was a welcome move. Mindshare's Venkat Shankarnarayan asserts, “The move was essential for Twitter as it has been seeing a declining trend in the number of its followers owing to the popularity of Instagram and Snapchat that have grown exponentially in the last year. “The revenue from ads generated on Instagram and Snapchat is much higher than on Twitter,” he adds.

All major brands today understand the importance of connecting with the consumer, and creating content on social media platforms. Those witty and compelling branded Tweets that we read are nothing but the products of carefully planned strategies that involve the tone of a brand, relevant content, among other factors. Twitter, as a platform, has always been known for the impact it creates through the crisp content.

iProspect India national head – social and creative Muddassar Memon adds, “Increase in the character limit for each tweet enables people and brands to interact on the platform with more content per tweet, leading to an increase in the traffic and, in turn, an increase in the effectiveness of brand communication.”

Twitter has always been more of a conversational platform. EveryMedia Technologies CEO Gautam B. Thakker believes the move will have a 50-50 impact on brands and has its pros and cons. It has come at a time when consumption of content on digital has become more visual in nature and, as a marketing strategy, brands and marketers are putting more thought into writing less and showing more engaging and enticing content. “While for some users expressing themselves will become easier, the 280-character limit is big enough to open up a channel for lot of unnecessary noise,” he adds.

On a similar note, Dentsu Webchutney creative strategist - general management Pranav Sabhaney mentions that, “Users and brands will make a lot of noise about the upgrade, but that has been the case with all previous updates of Twitter when they decided to add photos and videos. There will be some rants but it will all work out well for the brands in the end.”

Facebook and Instagram today are largely commercialised with great brand presence and spends on these platforms. According to a report by Pulp Strategy earlier this year, Twitter has been rated the best platform in B2B marketing with nearly 63 per cent of marketers choosing the platform to share the photos videos. Though, each social media platform has its own purpose, the bottomline from a brand perspective is -- effective communication.

Twitter no doubt is known for its crisp posts, brands trying to communicate with their target audience often face a roadblock in terms of lack of expression, which may no longer be the case with the increased character cap. However, on the flip side, "online reputation management on Twitter might get trickier. Instead of warranting precise information, your news feed might become a playground for clutter," affirms Thakker.

Muddassar is of the opinion that longer tweets will also improve search within the platform as well as SEO potential. Furthermore, brands will now be able to derive more insights on user behaviour and target them efficiently due to longer tweets.

Mindshare India senior director - digital Venkat Shankarnarayan says, “The move will impact brands in India as they choose to communicate only in the English language, and so far everything has been crammed on Twitter. This will help brands put their message across clearly and get more innovative.”

Although the move is still in beta version and only available to a select few, it will be interesting to see how it shapes up the marketing and communication of brands in India whenever it becomes available here.

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