Here at Socially-M we like Twitter. A lot. It may even be fair to say that we love the subtle and succinct art of putting together a tweet with photos and links, and releasing it onto our followers' newsfeeds. Twitter has been good to us too. We've met friends, colleagues and customers through the platform that we would never have found anywhere else. We're rather fond of the platform and the 140 character limit tweet format.
So we were a little surprised when Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey hinted at potential changes to the platform that would see the limit increase to around 10,000 characters. It's no secret that the future Twitter has come under scrutiny over the course of 2015, with many experts expecting the platform to do more to combat trolls and cyber-bullying or others, most notably CEO of Vaynermedia - Gary Vaynerchuck, suggesting that Twitter needs to cut out the clutter and evolve or it would be left behind by the likes of Instagram and Snapchat. We've no arguments there, it's long been the case that platforms need to 'evolve or die' as those of you old enough to remember MySpace and Bebo will know.
Initial reactions to the announcement were of disappointment. Disappointment and disbelief that Twitter would even consider changing what many saw as the platforms's unique element. I'll admit, we were a little taken aback too. From a professional point of view we've built our business on being able to craft succinct posts which include a photo, link and less text. But having had 24 hours to let the news sink in and consider it, we're actually rather encouraged by it. If nothing else, it proves that Twitter wants to be responsive to it's users' needs. Jack Dorsey explained that their own research has shown that a lot of users are posting pictures of text that would outweigh the character limit. Are photos of text documents the future? Of course not. True evolution is finding a way to avoid having to take photos of words and come up with a more user-friendly alternative.
Which is exactly what Twitter are doing. We think it's most likely that Twitter will retain the 140 characters that you know and love as a standard in your newsfeeds, but will adopt a 'more' button, much like Instagram did last year, allowing the additional text to be viewed at the users' discretion. So your initial tweet can become like a headline for the rest of your story. Twitter is also in the process of introducing interactive posts with 'call to action' buttons, allowing you to direct users to your website, shop, newsletter sign-up or survey at the click of a button. This would also remove the need for links to use up those valuable first 140 character headlines. As Twitter evolves, the way we use the platform also needs to change, which is perhaps why we've seen so much resistance to their current plans.
There's always resistance to change but social media has to remain innovative, to keep pushing boundaries and improving user experiences. We can't just draw a line in the sand and say "we built this platform in 2001, it was good enough then and it's good enough now.
Likewise, we can't keep using the platforms the same way as businesses, marketers or influencers, can we?