The Twitterverse Expands: What’s Changing & How to Take Advantage

Twitter’s recent switch to 280 characters took many users by surprise. Stubborn so long, the social channel has been criticized for an unwillingness to innovate and adapt. No more. Character limit is just the beginning of changes planned for the platform. Twitter wants to be more competitive, make investors happier and make things overall easier for users.

Some of the details are still vague, but it appears Twitter is committed to improving the user experience by doubling down on the things they already do well, while shifting priorities to compete with visual platforms like Instagram and Snapchat.

Here’s a taste of what Twitter is cooking up, and what it means to how you promote your business there.

More video

The social media world has been moving toward the visual for a while now and the largely text-focused Twitter has taken notice. Video is the fastest growing content on Twitter, with videos 6X more likely to be retweeted than photos. This has CEO Jack Dorsey promising to apply “a lot of technology” to making it easier and more efficient to post video content. If it’s not already, video should be a part of what you’re sharing on Twitter.

Custom hashtags

You may have noticed a bit more colour popping in your Twitter feed lately. Emojis are a recent addition to hashtags on Twitter, and people seem to be digging it. According to Twitter, ads with emojis receive 10% more attention than those that don’t, and video content paired with emojis are 6X more popular than regular videos. For businesses, not only do emojis help to connect to users in affable ways, they also enable posts to stand out as people scroll and scroll and scroll.  Even better, you can create a custom hashtag to use with an event or a launch, or to simply make your brand stand out.

More room = more hashtags

Assuming brevity is still the soul of your wit, the shift to 280 characters leaves a lot more space to up your hashtag game. Previously, it was possible to include a couple of hashtags at best, lest your copy shrink to insignificant. Now you can target more hashtags and get content seen by people who don’t follow you (as you would on Instagram.) It’s good practice to make a list of hashtags that relate to your product or the community where you do business. Include these in your Twitter posts.

Following Topics

Just as you can now follow hashtags on Instagram, and Facebook has tinkered with its News Feed algorithms, Twitter is looking at introducing a more personalized experience based on users’ interests. The “how” is still a mystery but it is worth keeping an eye on as a new space to engage with people in your area, or who might be interested in your product.

The Great Bot Purge

Unfortunately, bots, trolling, and harassment are inherent evils of the way Twitter works. While some bots have legitimate uses like retweeting posts related to a community interest (say, weather alerts) or providing customer service, many exist specifically to spam, or worse. Users want Twitter to do more to make sure the platform is a safe place. Twitter has answered with their recent “bot purge” (cracking down on automated sharing of content over multiple accounts), and ensuring authentic accounts get priority. For most, this only good news. Trolling can be a huge hassle for your business if it happens to you. However, as most accounts are followed by some bots, you may notice a drop in the number of your followers in the coming weeks.

The More Things Change…

One of Twitter’s strengths that has always been, and shows no signs of slowing, is real-time events. Twitter remains the go-to channel for news and to follow what’s happening in the world — as it happens. It’s a place for people to debate, get up-to-date information and join in a collective experience. As a business, look to Twitter to promote your events or big announcements. You’ll also find opportunities there to engage your clients and customers while your events are happening.

So it would seem that Twitter is growing up a little. And with that, bringing new opportunities for businesses to grow along with it. Time will tell how Dorsey & Co. can keep up to the ever-changing standard, but it’s worth watching. Stay tuned.