I am sure many of you reading this are ‘Tweeters’. To be exact there are 320 million active tweeters. You are quick thinking, nimble fingered, savvy 140-character responders. Twitter has been an insanely popular platform since its launch in 2006. A customised, real time news feed of what you actually want to see and hear about. What could be better right? You have complete control of the users feeds you see. Follow, unfollow depending on content. It is entirely your decision. Unlike the radio, where you are prisoner to whatever station you are listening to deems news worthy. There is flexibility and choice with Twitter. No time barriers, no geographic constraints. Just open the app and you have news and opinion.
This year marks the company’s decade in operation. Scary thought. Have phrases like ‘Hang on while I tweet’ really been part of the everyday since 2006? As all social sites do, Twitter continues to innovate and evolve. Over 10 years there have been a few tweaks. We have seen the removal of the 140-character limit from direct messages, introducing promoted and pinned tweets, a change from stars to hearts, the retweet button and most recently the moments feature. Although it normally performs the role as the supplier of news, instead this week Twitter itself has been the topic of discussion in those micro 140 bites.
Yet once again founder Jack Dorsey is rumoured to be looking to change things up for the social network. In the form of 10,000 character tweets. Now that would be a big change (pun intended). The current humble 140-character tweet has been a stalwart feature of the social network since the start. Short, sweet, snappy. Like the football manager’s famous post-match interview who when asked for a quick response, simply replied “velocity”. Genius. Why because it was so succinct.
Twitter’s introduction was in its simplicity refreshing. While other social networks (Facebook, Myspace) allowed us to write a novella in one go. Twitter created an enigma, short bios, bite sized content. We lapped it up, devoured it, digested it, and threw it back out there for others to retweet. Limitations forced creativity, re crafting an idea into its simplest and most understandable. Created a reactionary culture, revolutionised the speed of media, changed journalism. A platform championed by the activists. Taking the humble # from a symbol to a customisable worldwide call to action.
So would 10,000 characters it be such a bad thing? It is an interesting concept, should it become a feature. The fact is, the way we are using Twitter now has changed. We upload pictures that contain masses of text. Use software to shrink URL’s to enhance the connectivity of a tweet. It reminds me of the prohibition period in America. Whenever restrictions are imposed on people, there are always those who will find ways to subvert it. Overcome it. More characters changes the game. It too will force creativity. How can we achieve what we want, how can we share more information? Lifting the character restriction could have a similar effect. Introducing a sudden vastness of space in which to communicate, will completely change the way we use the platform. Again forcing us to react creatively. How could we best utilise this? It will be interesting to see how agencies manipulate this, what brands respond with. Can we hide content, promote it, create an incentive for people to find it with rewards. Resulting in increased content consumption in the effort to find the reward. We could. So whatever the change, it won’t limit us.
No it will force unique ways for brands to creatively engage and segment content. Change how we view the platform and interact with it yes. So is it a negative thing. No I don’t think it is. We adapt. We change. That is human nature. A change could be just what Twitter needs to increase its followers.