Twitter has been in the news a lot lately. They’ve finalized their CEO decision. They’ve launched the ‘Moments’ tab, putting a spotlight on live events in real-time. There’s even been a good amount of chatter about the platform’s infamous 140-character limit potentially going by the wayside. So, it’s safe to say that there’s a lot of change happening at Twitter at the moment. But is that a good thing?
As I started to dig into the debate around Twitter being prepared to say sayonara to its 140-character limit – essentially, what many have hailed as the tried-and-true, iconic cornerstone of the social platform’s user experience – I found myself having a hard time deciding which side I would champion. As much as many of us find 140 characters to be limiting, there’s a beauty in its simplicity, partly owing to the fact that creating eye-catching tweets takes a fair amount of copywriting genius. On the other hand, there’s a level of excitement associated with imagining what evolving Twitter’s user experience means for consumers, brands, and the entire social ecosystem.
Ultimately, this is a question of form over function – and function typically trumps form in my book. Which is why I really can’t place myself at either end of the debate. For me, the issue at hand isn’t about 140 characters at all, even though that’s what has inspired all of this kerfuffle. Rather, what this debate should be about is actually twofold: 1) what does Twitter do best and 2) what is the ideal user experience to enable Twitter to do what it does best?
As you can see, answering those two questions has nothing to do with the actual composition of a tweet. I feel like that’s just a distraction from the bigger conversation at hand. It’s important to remember that Twitter’s value to the social ecosystem is its timeliness. I like to think of it as a real-time broadcast channel for news, events, promotions, and more – both with local and global relevance – executed via rapid-fire, easily consumable content snacks. This isn’t your typical “lean in” content. It’s all about quick consumption around trending topics, events, and other news spikes that you (and the world) care about most, at a specific moment in time.
So my point of view on this entire debate is actually quite simple: it doesn’t matter how many characters we use to create a tweet as long as Twitter continues to create an experience for its users that allow them to leverage and benefit from what the social platform uniquely offers. By no means am I saying either “let’s do away with 140-characters” or “resist the urge to challenge the time-honored status quo.” Quite the contrary, I’d like to be the champion for total experience. We live in an era when customers demand more and more from us, as brands and service providers, each day. That’s why we must always stay laser-focused on both identifying the unique value we bring to our customers and delivering an experience that truly brings our brand’s differentiated value proposition to life – both online and offline.
Twitter will do what it deems best for its users. Our challenge (or opportunity), therefore, is to harness those changes in a way that allows our brands to extract the most value from that platform and engage with our customers in a timely, relevant, and meaningful way. I am excited to see what new things Twitter has in store for us all – because it will keep us on our toes and ultimately make us better, savvier marketers.
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