140 + 140!
That was the equation, well not a technical equation, that sent the Twitter world into an uproar on November 7th. #280Characters started trending within seconds and everyone had an opinion.
My opinion? Not positive right at the beginning, but I wasn't crazy about the update when Twitter started testing it in September. But, now that 280 has been live for about 3 weeks I have come to adapt to the change (like any social media professional would) on my OWN social platform, not my company's.
Hesitation and disapproval still lurk when it comes to a business Twitter profile, especially a B2B business. Below are 2 pieces of advice for B2B social media professionals and opportunities for 280 characters.
Test It Out
You're probably thinking to yourself right now, "didn't she just say she was hesitant about 280 for B2B?" Lucky for you, you are not going crazy - I am definitely saying your B2B business should test out using 280 characters.
Testing is a great strategy to use on any social platform, but up until now, we could really only test out different words in our messaging on Twitter, not length.
I suggest testing 280 with a meaty, and new, asset your business has. Your best option is using a study, e-book or whitepaper. Send out 2 different promotions, 1 right at or below 140 (the old norm) and for the 2nd promotion, take full advantage of 280, using about all of the characters.
This isn't the picture perfect A/B test, but if you run this a couple of times, with different content, your team can uncover what character count your audience wants. So yes, definitely test it out...
Use It Sparingly
BUT use it sparingly. Even if your count test shows the 280 posts performing better, your feed will immediately fill up with long-form posts and clog up your profile - this is not attractive for a B2B page.
B2B companies already struggle to break through the B2C-filled space. Social media users ALWAYS want candy bars, sparkling water and makeup, not always finance products and data cleansers. So sprinkling 280 occasionally and when it makes sense will only help for long-term social success and growth.
To be perfectly clear, I suggest using roughly 180-280 characters sparingly - you're going to go over 10-20 characters naturally, maybe because the countdown on Twitter is gone - we definitely needed that too, Jack!
My suggestion here is to write out your tweets in Microsoft Word or on a scheduling tool like Sprinklr. Both of these will allow you to count characters and keep yourself accountable! Narrowing an important message down to 140 characters is hard, but effective, don't lose that talent.
There are a couple of opportunities for B2B businesses to use 280, but the circumstances do not happen all too often. These opportunities are press releases and critical/crisis responses.
Announcements of new products and partnerships are exciting on Facebook and LinkedIn because of the space to elaborate on details, features, etc. Twitter is always the least exciting platform for PRs, but 280 can change that - B2B businesses can take this opportunity to expand announcement messaging and cause more excitement.
In the same area, but clearly not as fun/exciting, crisis management always needed to be cut short on Twitter. How many businesses have used a site like TwitLonger, posted a picture of a long response, or sent out a series of multiple tweets? A lot - and in my opinion, I never liked those strategies. Now, with 280 characters, crises can be solved for in a single tweet. *I am not guaranteeing your crisis will be over & done with by the way...just the tweet part*
280 characters isn't the best thing Twitter has given us, but it probably won't be the worst. So, for now, B2B businesses must be smart with their Twitter strategies and use this new update when applicable and to the best of their ability.