Twitter’s Algorithm Update & What It Means for Brands

Posted on June 8, 2016 • Written by Ben Smith

A few new platform updates are giving brands a slight reprieve from the constricting 140-character limit on Twitter. In an effort to keep up with their social platform competitors, Twitter is changing their short-hand format slightly to accommodate more information into their real-time platform. And an even bigger (unconfirmed) change could blow the whole thing out of the water.

While the verified new changes won’t be rolled-out to everyone for a few months, we have been keeping an eye on the new update and what it will mean for our clients and the future of digital marketing.

Here are a few of the most exciting changes coming down the pipeline.

At a glance

  1. @names in replies will be easier to use
    • Will no longer count towards the 140-character count in your tweet
    • Allows for up to 50 people in group tweets
  2. Media doesn’t count toward character limit
    • Attached media – including gifs, photos, quote tweets, polls and videos – will no longer count towards the 140-character limit
    • This move can give users up to 23 more characters per tweet
  3. No more period needed before @names
    • In the future, tweets beginning with an @username will have the ability to reach all of your followers – without a character in front
    • These tweets will now surface in timelines the same way as other tweets
  4. Retweet yourself (a retweet button will appear on your own tweets)
    • Eliminates the need to schedule the same tweet to run repeatedly at specific times
    • Now you can retweet your own tweets to make sure your followers saw it
    • Offers an alternative to tweetstorms (numbered series tweets)

From the rumor mill

There are also rumors spreading which suggest Twitter could soon be expanding the character cap from 140 to 10,000. Quickly #twitter10k started trending and the response from the public seems to be extremely divided – 47% positive and 53% negative reactions to Twitter’s (still up-in-the-air) dramatic change. Some users see the potential move as Twitter selling out to be more like it’s friendly competitor Facebook in order to appeal to the masses.

While Twitter CEO Jack Doresy didn’t deny the rumor, there’s been no formal change or even an official announcement yet beyond last year’s private message character expansion. For now, keep your content calendars to 140 characters – at the very least, the new confirmed changes will give you a bit more message space in some cases.

What does this all mean for brands?

Twitter has long been the platform that customers turn to when they want to engage directly with a brand, so the new updates will be largely beneficial for brands that rely on the platform for customer service help. With the new changes listed above, brands and consumers can expect greater freedom in using Twitter as a customer service platform. For instance, brands would no longer have to stretch their content over multiple tweets, will have an easier time repeating important tweets and can easily respond directly to consumers without being held to nitty gritty processes and limitations.

In the past, businesses have struggled to fit content into a mere 140-characters. These shifts mean important tweet components will no longer eat up valuable space, allowing for more open, easier, consumer-friendly and fulfilling communication between consumers and brands. Consumers want to engage on social media – not through cumbersome helplines. This change will make brands better able to engage with and respond to consumers where they are.

So what does this mean for your brand?

  • Greater freedom of content and sharability
  • A larger focus on media and imagery within tweets (which is great for engagement)
  • There are no more private tweets – all tweets go to your timeline
  • Twitter is a platform you should be leveraging as a customer service portal
  • Keeping up with Twitter best practices is extremely important

Looking for help with your brand social media management? Talk to the social media experts at Fruition!

Ben Smith

Written by Ben Smith

Ben Smith is a Researcher at Fruition, specializing in Google's Algorithm changes. Ben is a graduate of the University of Denver’s Mathematics program, and he enjoys learning about Google’s search algorithm updates. He's a vital asset of the Fruition team, and he one day hopes to publish a book. In his free time, you can find Ben enjoying the outdoors of Colorado.

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