Long-form Content on Twitter

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If you haven’t seen it already, Twitter has recently increased the 280-character limit to 4000 characters for those who subscribe to Twitter Blue. Does this mean Twitter, as we know it, is no longer viable? Is this just a temporary blip in Twitter’s recent wave of updates? Or are 4000-character tweets genuinely useful? To work out what longer tweets mean for Twitter and us, we asked The MindSkills Guy and #TwitterSmarter regular, George Silverman. Here’s a summary of our chat.

Guest: George Silverman
Topic: Long-form content on Twitter
Format: Eight questions directed at the guest. Everyone’s welcome to share.

Q1: What are your favorite long-form content options on Twitter?

Most of our #TwitterSmarter community like Twitter threads for long-form content. However, we also had some people, like Howard, who’ve experimented with the longer 4000-character tweets available to Twitter Blue subscribers. The extra characters offer a bit of breathing space for those who’re more likely to share a narrative in their tweets.

https://twitter.com/LifeByStills/status/1636418099472744459?s=20

Our guest, George, calls these 4000-character tweets SuperTweets. Other long-form content includes videos and atomic essays—text-based images you can share on your tweet. They’re good because you can have clearly formatted text, but as they’re images, the text contained within isn’t searchable.

Another popular long-form content on Twitter right now is Spaces, as Madalyn pointed out. It’s a great way to extend the conversation and make your voice stand out from the crowd.

Q2: Twitter is considering allowing up to 10,000 characters. Could this backfire? Who benefits from this?

For now, it doesn’t look like it’s backfiring. Even though a lot of people were initially unsure of longer tweets, people are gradually adopting it. As our guest said, he’s getting a lot of good readership on his longer tweets. So is Madalyn.

All that said, it’s important that long-form tweets are reader-friendly. Formatting is the best way to achieve that, as George pointed out. As tweets get longer, we’ll need visual elements to break up a monotonous stream of text. And even then, not everyone can pull off a super-long tweet that people will want to read and engage with.

Besides, as Mark added, sometimes people are going to ignore long tweets. On the other hand, some people will stop and read. For those who have newsletters or other long-form content, 4000-character tweets can help share a snippet or a sneak peek of their content.

Q3: Is a 4000-character tweet better than a Twitter thread?

Not necessarily. Which format you choose is based on a few variables. For starters, it depends on your message and its purpose.

As our friends from Advanced Digital Marketing pointed out, what format you choose should also depend on what your audience prefers to read.

A lot of people would like the breaks that a Twitter thread offers, like Sabrina, while many others would feel like it’s a distraction.

Q4: What are some use cases for a 4000-character tweet?

Our guest, as is his style, explained the use cases of a 4000-character tweet using a 4000-character tweet. These tweets are great for any message that requires a certain level of description and detail. For instance, you can use it to tell a story like an anecdote or an example to outline your message.

You can provide opinions and analyses on current affairs, share step-by-step how-to guides or other educational material, post announcements, and important business updates that need to be communicated in one tweet, share thought leadership-style content outlining your expertise, and showcase creative writing that can’t be effectively laid out in a thread.

When used properly, 4000-character tweets offer a flexible mode of communication and can garner a lot of engagement.

As Alyx pointed out, however, one of the biggest challenges of writing 4000-character tweets is that you’ll need to start off with a proper hook to encourage people to read more. Twitter automatically truncates long tweets on the feed, so it takes an extra click for the reader to read your full tweet. Use the first couple of lines of your tweet to indicate that it’s worth clicking.

Q5: When is a thread better than a 4000-character tweet?

A thread is the better choice when you’re forming complex arguments that need to be broken down into smaller chunks for readability. In the case of threads, each tweet should be able to stand on its own. That’s why threads are great for live tweeting at an event or sharing live updates and progress.

If you’re posting a series of individual tips, links, or ideas, use threads for better reach. Another reason to use threads is when you’re trying to build anticipation in your readers, and you want them to actively engage in each tweet. On the whole, while some use cases overlap between threads and 4000-character tweets, which one you choose depends largely on your audience, the type of message, and your goal for the tweet.

Q6: Share some tips for creating engaging long tweets and threads on Twitter.

The most important thing to remember about 4000-character tweets is that you don’t have to use all 4000 characters. This means you have to plan what you want to say, outline a structure for how you want to say it, and then edit to make sure it’s as clear as you can make it.

Have a good hook to grab and retain your audience’s attention. Organize your thoughts in an easy-to-consume manner. This includes using shorter and simpler sentences, avoiding unnecessary jargon, and cutting down fluff. When Twitter introduces formatting options, use titles, bold, and italics to visually structure your content. Once you’ve written your tweet, go back and proofread for grammar and punctuation.

If your content warrants it, add images, GIFs, or videos to supplement your tweet. When you’re ready to conclude, do so with a question or overarching statement that’ll leave your audience pondering. This will encourage them to reply to you and continue the conversation.

For threads, start with a strong hook and organize every tweet sequentially so that they can all stand and be retweeted as individual tweets. Every tweet should be a rung on a ladder; contributing to the overall narrative but meaningful on its own, too.

Keep your tweets succinct. Most people reading a thread expect a long-form narrative. But that doesn’t mean you have to use 280 or 4000 characters in every tweet in a thread. Sometimes, a one-line tweet in a thread can be more powerful than a longer tweet.

Always number your tweets in a thread to help your readers follow along. Use a countdown like so: 1/5, 2/5, 3/5.

If you’re unsure of how many tweets you’ll have, use something like this: 1/n, 2/n, 3/n. In this case, when you finish the thread, indicate clearly that that’s the end of the thread.

As in the case of 4000-character tweets, use visual elements to supplement your message in the thread. We know GIFs and videos get a lot of attention on Twitter, so having a GIF on a thread can help boost your reach and engagement—as long as the GIF is relevant and appropriate.

Close out your thread with a strong call to action (CTA). This can be anything from asking for replies and retweets to directing your reader to your website to download an ebook or register for a webinar. Whatever it is, make it clear what you want your reader to do next. When they engage with tweets in your thread, actively respond and engage with them—accept feedback graciously, and continue conversations.

Above all, whether it’s a 4000-character tweet or a thread, don’t ramble. If you do, you’ll likely lose your audience.

Q7: Does Twitter Spaces affect people’s ability to converse through tweets?

Not really, according to our guest. Spaces is complementary to text-based tweets, and not an alternative. However, it influences how people communicate and when. For example, Spaces is best suited for live and dynamic conversations. It’s fast-paced, like text-based tweets, but it also allows for more depth because you hear the other person, their emotion, tone, and personality. This enhances the quality of the conversation, making people more attuned to one another.

Spaces is also more accessible than text-based tweet conversations. For those who use screen readers or have trouble typing, Spaces is a more comfortable and sustainable environment to converse in.

Spaces is all about spontaneity. That’s what makes it a great platform to host live interviews, discussions, and Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions. The engagement you’d get from a live Spaces event is significantly better than what you might get through live event tweeting. What’s more, Spaces is also perfect for networking. Not only do you get to hear from people with similar interests, but you’ll also expand your network just by joining a space and looking through other listeners.

Q8: Is Spaces the end of podcasting?

George doesn’t think so. Instead, he considers Spaces as a way to generate podcasts that are more interactive than traditional ones.

Benjamin agreed, pointing out also that Spaces have made it easier for people to start creating audio content. That said, the demand for podcasts hasn’t really gone down either.

Well folks, that’s all from me this week. Thanks for reading through and for more great insights from our chat with George, have a look at this Twitter thread. If you like this summary, you’ll love the real-time chat. Join us next Thursday at 1 pm ET for #TwitterSmarter. We also have an after-chat on Twitter Spaces at 5 pm ET. See you there!


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About me, Naramdhaa:

I write all the things—marketing stuff to pay the bills; haiku and short stories so I feel wholesome. A social media enthusiast, I hang out with the #TwitterSmarter chat crew, and am always happy to take on writing gigs.

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