We Are Communication Architects

Building brand awareness through content creation and community engagement.

October 15th, 2015

Tools Inform, But Don’t Dictate, Strategy

I’ve spent the last three days in Austin at the Spredfast Summit 2015. There was plenty of great food eaten, lots of good drink consumed and inspiring conversation engaged in as I met and mingled with both people who I haven’t seen in a long time or was meeting for the first time.

Because of the nature of the event there was a strong focus on product. On tools. On how those tools can be used to engage with fans and distribute content efficiently and so on. This is all true and valuable of course. A hammer is a much more efficient way of putting a nail in a piece of wood than trying to use the palm of your hand. Tools help us.

About to kick off #sfsummit with the opening keynote.

In this case one of the big value propositions being offered by tools like Spredfast and countless others is that they can offer you data that will inform how and when you, as a content marketing professional, post and engage. They offer you the best time to publish to Twitter, Facebook and other platforms because that’s the time when the audience is most responsive and you will see, the ideal goes, the biggest bang for your buck.

I have zero problem with this kind of insight. It’s valuable to use and show to your manager, clients and other stakeholders what the peak day or time for the program is. This can help guide the execution of a content marketing program, though there should be broader guidelines that are part of a content framework and style guide.

But (you knew there was going to be a “but” coming) that should be just one factor that goes into that content marketing execution. It should be considered alongside and with the guidance and experience of the people running the program. Not only that, but “peak post time” may not even be feasible for any combination of the following reasons:

  • If there’s more than one piece of news, what gets the golden slot? If you’re running a program that has any sort of scale you’re going to be posting multiple times a day. So someone will need to make sure that, assuming you have multiple beats that are known in advance, they’re making the call as to what goes where on the editorial calendar.
  • Building off one point above, the “here’s when to post to maximum impact” assumes you know what beats are coming. And when. But if your peak time is, say, 11AM but there’s a breaking news item coming in hot at 3:30PM, then by necessity (unless you’re a Time Lord) you will have missed your window.
  • That you’re not creating a feedback loop. The data may tell you – rightly, I should add – that 11AM is the best time for you to post. And if you keep maximizing the impact of that slot and seeing success, the data will likely continue to show that. This isn’t a bad thing, necessarily, but is something where you should be sure you’re not creating a situation where you’re backed into a corner.

Make sure that not only are the tools you’re using giving you good, actionable data but that you’re combining the insights from the data are being combined with similarly good, actionable recommendations based on the experiences of the team involved. Someone telling you “that won’t work” based on their experience and gut feeling about how the audience will react should be taken just as seriously as someone coming in with reams of data about why and how a proposed tactic will or won’t work.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Content Marketing, Publishing Programs

October 14th, 2015

What I’m Reading: Mary Gaulke

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As part of Voce’s content team, I follow many sites and authors focused on the discipline of content strategy. Here are some of my favorite things I’m reading/have read lately:

  • As Voce/PN’s primary resident Wikipedian, I enjoy William Beutler’s weekly “Wikipedia in 60 Seconds” emails, which review the basics of how Wikipedia works.
  • When it comes to content strategy, there’s no one I trust more than Kristina Halvorson, author of the excellent Content Strategy for the Web. (I refer to Halvorson almost exclusively as “Our Lady of Content Strategy.”) This summary of a recent presentation of hers is practically gospel to me: “Answering why is especially important — and especially difficult. ‘This content will make us a thought leader’ is not an answer to why.”
  • A List Apart offers solid wisdom on UX, content strategy, and the intersection of both. A recent highlight: “Reclaiming Social: Content Strategy for Social Media.” Those seven questions you should ask about every social update deserve to be on a sticky note on the desk of every social media exec worldwide.
  • Contently’s Content Strategist blog is consistently worth reading.
  • Finally, Fast Company’s deeply silly Today in Tabs keeps me savvy to the latest happenings on the turbulent seas of the Internet.

Filed in Voce People

October 13th, 2015

Voce Student Essential Reading 10/13: Getting Rid of Comments, Embracing Annotation & More

Article or ad pic2 Image via Mashable

Social Media

Vice’s Motherboard is getting rid of comments

“The argument for comments has long been that a well-moderated section lowers the barrier to entry for readers to share their thoughts, positive or otherwise. In a vacuum, that sounds like a dream, but the key there is ‘well-moderated.’ Good comment sections exist, and social media can be just as abrasive an alternative. But for a growing site like ours, I think that our readers are best served by dedicating our resources to doing more reporting than attempting to police a comments section in the hopes of marginally increasing the number of useful comments.”

Voce Insight – Community engagement is important, but so is enabling the right kind of engagement with the right kind of environment. That’s likely the reasoning behind the decisions of a host of publications to remove comments from their sites and stick solely to social media for engagement. It’s still important to decide what function comments on your own site serve, and if it improves the quality of conversation.

Twitter users are really not happy about the blue dot in Moments

“Unsurprisingly, as with pretty much every major update to any widely used social media platform, the move has been met with some criticism from users. For many, it seems, the worst part of the update isn’t the addition of the new tab itself, but the blue dot that accompanies the tab whenever the content within it is updated, which happens several times a day.”

Voce Insight – This is a fascinating case of 21st century Pavlovian conditioning. It also represents the inevitable criticism social media platforms face when they make a noticeable change. Corrections will be made and the fuss will die down. It’s still worth watching how Moments continues to affect Twitter usage.

Public Relations

Washington Post Homepages Through the Years

“‘The Post’s newsroom remains one that constantly tweaks, plays with and innovates with its homepage and website,’ says Narisetti, ‘something that is essential in this world of permanent beta.’”

Voce Insight – Permanent beta not only belongs on a motivational poster, but also in your head when thinking about publications. Big news is big news, but priorities are still shifting constantly, which must be taken into account when working with reporters. A publication’s front page is just one indication of those priorities.

How annotation can save journalism

“But in a world in which people are looking for context and commentary with their news and where primary source documents are becoming more and more the coin of the realm, annotation seems to me to hold almost limitless potential as a new avenue by which journalists can add value (and keep their jobs!).”

Voce Insight – Annotation works not only when commenting on source material as a journalist – as a PR professional you can also use this in press releases, pitches, emails and newsletters. For the sake of brevity, adding context with additional links gives the reader what they need up front, with the option to click through for more detail (or fun).

Handling Nightmare Public Relations Clients

“The worst thing about PR are the nightmare clients. The consumer product manager who fires you then tries to hire you again and again; a client who changes their business model, asks you to hold off contacting reporters, then demands to know why there’s no media coverage – in the first month; and the manufacturer with five different websites who brags about the ‘world’s most expensive’ product that is a photo-shopped picture.”

Voce Insight – Commiserating about unreasonable clients is part of PR, but maintaining good relationships with clients — even the difficult ones — is paramount to success. Even more important for aspiring PR professionals is to make sure their team is strong. The people around you make the more trying times a little less difficult.

Career

The 8 Things No Recruiter (Ever) Wants To See On Your Resume

“Your resume is essential to helping you get a job – you’re unlikely to get far without it. As a record of your achievement, it (ideally) lays out for an employer exactly what you have done and therefore that you can do the job for which you’re applying.”

Voce Insight – You’re going to be emailing your resume, which means the question is not if you should include links, but where those links will lead. As this article notes, linking to Facebook or Instagram is rarely a good idea. A personal website, a well maintained Twitter account or your LinkedIn profile is a better bet. Annotation everybody (ahem … see above).

Filed in Career Development

October 13th, 2015

How To Skim, And What I’m Skimming: Christopher Barger

Like most of my fellow digital media practitioners, I have a lot of reading every week. Reading is as big a part of life for a digital consultant as understanding community management best practices or understanding audience need states and how to relevant to your target communities. The digital space changes fast — faster than the rest of communications; there are always new players emerging, new developments from existing players, new brand experiences that will end up being case studies to learn from… keeping up on all these changes is absolutely necessary if you want to maintain your ability to keep your clients informed, and to keep providing the strongest and most up to date counsel.

I also am responsible, along with Chris Thilk and a couple of other colleagues, for our weekly PNConnect Weekly Reading newsletter. This pretty much means that one of my responsibilities is to tell other people — colleagues, clients, and other observers — what they should be reading. That comes with additional pressure to be thorough and complete in my reading; I have to see enough each week to be able to identify and promote the most significant content that week.

It can be tough, however, to do your job and do all the reading you need to do. Clients need counsel; they also need execution from you. And of course, that’s why we’re all in business: to support our clients. So in order to keep up with everything going on in the digital space while still supporting clients, I’ve had to sharpen a very important skill: skimming.

Call it skimming, call it speed-reading; whatever its name, the skill involves learning to glance at an article or post, be able to go over it quickly, and identify and understand the key points and main thrust of the article. It’s kind of like drawing up your own Cliff’s Notes for everything you read. The only way to get good at it is to do it again and again; like training yourself to pick up a ball leaving a pitcher’s hand and knowing by release point and arm angle what he’s throwing, it takes practice and repetition to get it right. Ultimately, what you’re training yourself to do is to read only the words or lines that will increase your understanding of the text, and avoid the excess words that don’t help you.

One of the ways I’ve trained myself to do this is to skim several articles about the same topic; if I come away from all of them with the same takeaways, it’s a decent bet that I’ve really grokked it. I did an awful lot of this as I was learning; if you’re trying to master the skill, you should identify three or four stories on the same subject. When you’re drawing similar conclusions from each article, you’re probably doing it right. If you’re drawing different conclusions, re-read everything more slowly. (Try not to read opinion pieces as you’re doing this; you really need to train yourself on reporting, not columns or opinion posts. With opinion pieces, you’re reliant on the author’s conclusions or perspectives for your own coming out of the read.)

Don’t read every word on the page. I tend to read the lead graphs first — good reporting still includes getting all the keys in the lede. It also helps me to look for quotes in the story; if the author has interviewed or cited a third party in the piece, that’s usually good for providing color and adding depth to my understanding. Looking for names, dates, percentages or other data, and that kind of thing also tends to help identify when something’s going to make you “get it” better. Finally, the first few words of each new paragraph give you the sense of what the graph is about; reading the first sentence more thoroughly or carefully than the rest can be an effective tactic.

Now that we’ve talked a little about how to skim articles, I should probably tell you what I skim on a regular basis to keep current and make my counsel as effective as possible. I should first admit that I read a lot more publications than individual perspectives. There are two reasons for this. First, I don’t always want to see someone else’s opinionated perspective as the first exposure I get to a topic. I want the “just the facts, ma’am” version of the subject, so I can develop my own opinion about it. I’ll then gut-check my developing opinion by reading the perspectives of the people I respect in the field. If they come to a different conclusion than I do, it doesn’t necessarily make me wrong, but I do tend to go back and re-read about the subject with greater care than at first, to make sure I understand the topic as well as I thought.

The other reason I don’t read many individuals is that I think there’s a dearth of good counsel and genuinely good opinion out there in the digital media world. There’s a lot of self-promotion — much of it from people who haven’t actually been in the trenches executing programs, but just fancy themselves “experts” — but I find that many of the voices that are still considered most prominent in this space haven’t had much original to say since about 2009.

That said, there are a handful of people who I think are really smart and whom I read regularly. My former competitor when I was at GM and he at Ford, Scott Monty always makes me think, and points me to stories that I should probably “learn up” on. Gini Dietrich and her team at Spin Sucks are a good resource both for pointing out stories of importance and for making me aware of professional development resources (as well as being a professional development resource in their own right). Shelly Kramer and her team at the V3 Blog are a good read. And Geoff Livingston challenges conventional wisdom and makes me really consider my own positions on digital marketing when he posts about marketing.

The rest of my reading is accomplished through Feedly. Feedly is like any RSS tool, in that you have to tell it what you want to follow and what you want it to present to you. But it makes it a lot easier for me to see what’s being published by my sources of choice. I look at Feedly several times a day to see what these sources are running with — and to see if more than one is covering the same story (a good indication that it’s an important story that I ought to get smart on pretty fast).

I’ve got a couple of different categories of reading to check. For General Reading, I have mainstream news outlets — the New York Times, Washington Post, the major broadcast networks’ websites. First, if these outlets are covering a digital story, it’s a pretty good bet that it’s a story of significance to the “real world” of people who don’t specialize in digital for a living. But I also just want to be up on what’s going on in the world, to provide context to some of the digital stories I cover.

Marketing_Land

I have a category dedicated to Marketing and Social Media. These outlets help me stay up on the broad field of marketing, and especially digital marketing. Some of the outlets I seem to find most useful in this category include Marketingland, AdWeek, ClickZ, MarketingProfs, eMarketer, Ragan’s PR Daily, and the eConsultancy Blog. There’s others in that feed, but these seem to be the outlets that make me smartest. Like I said, these help me stay up on the developments that will impact my job the most.

I have a category dedicated to Tech. Voce tends to focus much of its business on the tech industry, a lot of our clients are in tech, and often when either the major digital platforms or emerging competitors are doing something new, the tech media cover it. Among the sites in this category most useful to me are Quartz (which I especially find useful for smartening me up on global digital developments), ReadWrite, Re/Code, the New York Times’ “Bits” blog, The Verge, VentureBeat, Fast Company, and Wired. Again, there are others — but I do find myself gravitating to these more often.

recode

From a Journalism standpoint, I like looking at the Columbia Journalism Review — they often have pieces that provide depth to how the emergence of digital has impacted the pursuit of journalism and breaking news — for both better and worse.

Finally, every now and then, I confess that I will check out BuzzFeed. The snob in me wants to pretend that I don’t, but every so often, in between the articles on 37 First Sex Mistakes That Will Make You Cringe, they have a story on a brand or company that’s using digital in a creative or interesting way. They’re also pioneers in the area of native advertising, which is something every digital practitioner should rapidly be gaining expertise in — and I learn from some of the brands who do native ads on BuzzFeed.

Now, do you see why I’ve had to learn the art of skimming?

About the Author
Christopher Barger is Senior Vice President of Global Digital at Voce/Porter Novelli. You can follow him on Twitter @cbarger.

Filed in Voce People

October 12th, 2015

What I’m Reading: Chris Thilk

I do a lot of reading. As one of the people, along with Christopher Barger, responsible for assembling the PNConnect Weekly Reading newsletter and blog post I need to be monitoring a lot of different news sources on a regular basis. To do this most efficiently I use Digg Reader (yes, I’m one of the 74 people still addicted to RSS. I have Digg Reader for one set of feeds and Feedly for another set that’s focused on client news monitoring) and check it a dozen times a day to keep up with the hundreds of feeds I’m subscribed to. Items I save in Digg are automatically pushed to my Pocket account so I can collect them and then go through them later, reading what I want to just read and using the rest as the basis for Weekly Reading, Voce blog posts, personal blog posts or for use elsewhere like on LinkedIn.

rssHere’s a dirty little secret about my RSS reading, though: I subscribe to very few “personal” blogs. Like…three. That’s because a few years ago I realized that most of what was passing for thought leadership in the PR/Social Media world these days sounded very much like the thought leadership we were seeing in 2007. It was all about “7 Tips to Blog Like a Rock Star” and “12 Ways to Run an Effective Twitter Chat.” Not that there’s anything wrong with those kinds of posts, but they felt way recycled and there didn’t seem to be much new in the thinking on display.

Instead my RSS feeds are mostly made up of news sites. Mostly that’s media and social media sites, but with general news feeds in there as well from The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Newsweek and so on. Because if I’m not up on the news in the rest of the world then I’m of less value not only as a citizen but also as a social media manager since those national and world events absolutely inform the guidance I’m providing my clients. There’s also a healthy amount of “entertainment” news in there as well since that’s not only of interest to me personally but also informs what I write for my personal blog.

In addition to RSS I do obviously use Twitter for just kind of general worldly awareness. It’s where I look for trending topics and breaking news, though I don’t count on it for actual news reading outside of the “Priorities” column I have in Tweetdeck. And I enjoy following select news media accounts on Tumblr, not so much to see the news but to see how those pubs are using Tumblr as a distribution and engagement point.

If you’d like to know exactly what I read (I don’t think there’s anything too embarrassing in there), leave a comment below and I’ll email you an OPML export from Digg Reader.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Voce People

October 8th, 2015

Facebook Test Reactions

Facebook has announced they are officially testing Reactions, an enhancement that is supposed to be a more nuanced approach to engaging with a post beyond just Liking it or not Liking it. After all, humans have more emotions than can be summed up with a simple binary option.

Reactions are rolling out just to Ireland and Spain for now and will be available on posts from individuals and Pages from publishers, businesses and more, including posts from advertisers. Facebook is selling this as an opportunity for Page managers to better understand their audience and how they feel about what’s being published.

What’s clear here is that this is NOT a “Dislike” button, which is what the internet kind of thought it would be when it was first announced a couple months ago. In fact there’s nothing here beside “angry” that even comes close.

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So what can publishers do now? Not much, honestly. For now, Page managers will be able to see what kind of emoji Reactions people are sharing on their posts, meaning they will at least be able to draw anecdotal, if not actual quantitative, conclusions. While the network reminds publishers to follow their core best practices and post content that is “meaningful” to their audience, it remains to be see exactly how these new emoji-based Reactions will translate into Insights.

As this expands beyond its original test countries it will be interesting to see how publishers can actually use the data that’s provided to guide future posting decisions. Right now it looks like more nuanced emotions will mean more work for those who are tasked with diving into data since they will have to draw a lot of conclusions out of what it means when 27% of the audience used the “Wow” emoji, 36% used the “Love” and so on. But hopefully that means, once everyone becomes acclimated to this new paradigm, publishers will be able to much more carefully choose what they do and don’t post on Facebook.

Additional thoughts from Christopher Barger:

I’m optimistically hoping that this can begin to have a positive impact on the quality of what gets posted on Facebook — because as audiences have options to provide more nuanced feedback, the self-serving/overly promotional posts will start to track worse in a way that’s demonstrable. I think the end result is better content over time.

Again, it’s anecdotal and not qualitative feedback, but those who think “Like this post if you like ketchup” makes a good Facebook post, and who won’t post anything unless it contains product or branding, may get a stern wakeup call with this feature in effect.

More to come as more details are revealed.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Publishing Programs, Social Networks

October 7th, 2015

Prepare For That New Business Pitch by Casting

Last month, Samantha Forth, and I attended Omnicom’s Emerging Stars program in San Francisco with junior staff from across Omnicom’s marketing companies to learn the art of integrated communications. We walked away with eyes open and new insight to use everyday in our offices. She shared a few lessons learned that agency folks from any discipline could benefit from. In this post, I want to dig a little deeper into one that I think could be particularly helpful to our team.

New business pitches can be the most unpredictable in our job – you never know the different personalities you will meet when you walk into a room. New business pitch casting is an approach that can help you prepare for them all by better understanding what resonates with each personality. This idea is intended to reduce the chances of losing new business because there was “no chemistry” by ensuring you have a match for everyone in the room.

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It is no secret that we all have different personalities that impacts how we present and receive information. Reading the four personality breakouts below and matching them with similar personalities on your pitch team will ideally help even the odds in this unpredictable scenario.

  • Method: These people have analytical minds, so they are more detailed oriented and will be looking for the proof behind the recommendation. They will be interested in the thought process and how the team solved the problem.
  • Stage: That decisive, practical individual that gets right to the point…yep that’s a Stage person. They won’t need to multiple proof points (facts, diagrams or graphs) that reinforce the same idea, like the Method above. A concise presentation that gets to the point with the ‘who, what, where and why’ will be the best way to keep their interest.
  • Improv: These people are more emotional and approachable. They will be interested in a presentation that tells a story with an emotional pull. Visuals, videos, or campaign mock-ups will resonate best and catch the Improv’s attention.
  •  Spotlight: Dynamic, strong and impulsive…these are all characteristics of a Spotlight person. You will have to work hard to keep their attention with flashy, big ideas and presentation props or animated examples. A presenter that is very energetic will make sure they don’t fall asleep during your presentation.

After learning about the above four personalities, hopefully you have a better understanding of what to expect when you walk into a room and how to make your presentation resonate. When developing your next pitch team together, research the judging panel and cast your team accordingly.

Let’s go close!

 

 

Filed in Pitching

October 6th, 2015

Twitter Launches Moments To Capture Key…Well…Moments

After months of speculation and teases of what had previously been called “Project Lightning,” Twitter has finally launched Moments.

Essentially, Moments is a simple way to organize the chaos that is Twitter around a specific event or story (for example, the #superbloodmoon last month, or the Umpqua shootings, or the MLB playoffs). Moments are curated collections of tweets, images, videos, or anything else you can find on Twitter about a specific topic. People can follow Moments and get updates on those stories either within the Moments tab that has now been added to the Twitter mobile app or, if they prefer, within their standard Timeline for stories that are updating more frequently.

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Moments is Twitter’s latest attempt to make the status network as easy as possible for new and casual users to get their hands around. The perception, at least among shareholders and others, that Twitter is too difficult to grasp and that’s what is keeping its user numbers low, though “low” is a relative term.

For users, Moments is a great way to use Twitter as way to stay up to date on current news or stories that are interesting to them. The way people are alerted to updates on stories they’re following is reminiscent of the now-defunct Circa news aggregation digest, which had similar functionality, though one does have to wonder if “Moments” provides the kind of clear branding that someone who’s not an established Twitter user would instantly get and be able to digest before diving in.

For brands, Moments provides a way to dive deeper into the context around trending topics and events and, if appropriate, find ways to be part of those conversations and moments. So brand managers can see what’s being published as part of, say, the discovery of water on Mars and see if there are opportunities to insert themselves. Those brand-created hop-ons (you’re going to get some hop-ons) won’t be part of Moments since there’s an editorial curation team with its own set of guidelines and principles that assembles Moments, not just a discovery algorithm.

There will, however, be advertising opportunities available in the coming weeks within the “Live Events” section of Moments. Those “Promoted Moments,” as the new ad unit is being called, will allow a brand to do its own curation of Tweets, Vines and other media on Twitter. They’ll be available for 24 hours and will be sharable just like regular Moments, including being embeddable on a brand website.

Even if there aren’t clear and immediate brand activations that are part of Twitter Moments, it sounds like there will be some in the not-too-distant future. Plus, it’s always important to stay up to date on how Twitter – and other networks and apps – are trying to both attract new users and make the experience easier and more comprehensive for existing users.

You can watch – at least for the next 20 hours or so – a Periscope replay of the Twitter team’s walk-through of Moments here.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Social Networks

October 5th, 2015

Attending the Spredfast 2015 Summit in Austin, TX

I’m excited to say I’ll be heading to Austin, TX next week to attend the Spredfast 2015 Summit. This will be my first time at the conference and my first time in Austin (no, I’ve never been to SXSW) and both have the potential to be pretty cool.

spredfast summit 2015

If you are going to be there – either for the conference specifically or just happen to be in Austin – drop me a line and let me know when you’d like to meet up. If you’re not going to be in Austin for the conference you can follow along with my live updates on Twitter and I’m going to try to do daily posts both here with what I’m hearing and learning.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Voce People

September 30th, 2015

Rumor: Twitter Mulling Dropping 140 Character Limit

A report/rumor surfaced yesterday on Recode that forces within Twitter – particularly interim CEO Jack Dorsey – are considering dropping the 140 character limit that has always been in place on the network. This is…interesting. There have already been countless hot-takes (many on Medium, which is basically Twitter for long-form posts anyway) about this, with many of those saying that doing so is the only way Twitter survives, an opinion that seems to come from solely looking at success as being defined by user numbers.

twitter box

Now the Recode report says Twitter “is building a new product” so it’s not clear whether or not the core Twitter service would change or if this would be something that’s tacked on to Twitter as an ancillary service. It could be something that allows you to add a block quote of text. People are already using screenshots of text uploaded as images – colloquially called “screenshorts” – as a work around. It could be an option that allows only Verified accounts to publish longer tweets. It could be…well…anything.

If it’s just a simple expanding of the character could it would, most obviously, eliminate the need for you to keep eliminating words. So Twitter would suddenly become much more friendly to adverbs and adjectives, which are usually (at least in my experience) the first casualties when copy is over 140 characters. Even if they made a minor change and stopped counting links or photos against the 140 character limit that would free up quite a bit of space.

The problems Twitter would face if they do something more are actually fairly significant and would, I think, do more to damage the brand than they would to help it reach a larger audience.

The entire Twitter ecosystem is built for short updates. Longer posts would break how Tweetdeck, Hootsuite and other apps look. The workaround here would be a “Read more” link to expand a longer post but Twitter is mostly about scrolling through and seeing quick updates. And everything Twitter has done over the last couple years has been about bringing more information into the feed – Cards, auto-loading videos and photos, etc – not trying to hide content. This would go against everything Twitter has done to make consuming and engaging with content more of a lean-back experience.

Again, longer posts that are published to a network of friends and other connections already exists in Medium, which just landed a sizable funding round. So it makes much more sense for Twitter to create more ties between it and Medium than it does to build something new for long-form.

Going long-form would also mean it’s expanding the range of sites/apps/networks it’s competing against and that means it would have to substantially change user behavior. It’s the same struggle Facebook Notes, which relaunched to be more of a blogging platform, faces. So it would go up against Facebook Notes, LinkedIn and Tumblr. Probably not WordPress since those are power users, but those are certainly the platforms Medium is competing against so Twitter would face the same challenges.

How exactly this will play out obviously remains to be seen. But it has to be asked if Twitter without the 140 character limit is still Twitter? Yes, they’ve made that a fuzzy line recently with Quote Retweets, no character limit in DMS and other moves but it still stands as a core principle, even if the technical aspects make that more murky. However it plays out it will be important for content marketers to be on the forefront of these changes and make sure they’re adjusting their and their client’s strategies accordingly.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Publishing Programs, Social Networks

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