It's been a disruptive year for Twitter. The social media giant's stock price plummeted in July before slowly making back that ground, while users have been up in arms over policies on abusive language amid the rise of the alt-right.
At the same time, Twitter also made perhaps its biggest ever change – doubling the length of tweets from 140 to 280 characters. They argued that this was to enable users to convey as much information in English as others can with more expressive alphabets (like Japanese Kanji), but the feedback was mixed at best.
Despite a lukewarm reception from a public relations perspective, many organisations have leapt at the opportunity to deliver twice as much information in a tweet – here are six who we'd class as early adopters of the 280 revolution.
The increase to Twitter's character limit has resulted in a lot of rather spammy posts from brands, making light of having extra characters more often than actually using it to their advantage. Not so with Spotify, who have managed to wring value and engagement out of 280 characters much better than their competition.
For example – look at the way they managed to create a fun, engaging quiz with a single tweet under the new limit.
Song titles only…
3. ( + )
10. ( + )
Spotify (@Spotify) November 8, 2017
Another contender that made excellent use of emojis, NASA's work with 280 characters is less about engaging users and more about providing visually stimulating content. With more (forgive the pun) space available to them, NASA managed to paint a simple portrait of the galaxy above us.
We think it is a great way to embrace the change – and for added impact, make sure to view it in Twitter's night mode.
. * .
* . . *
Thanks @Twitter, we can
always use more space
. . .
. * *
NASA Goddard (@NASAGoddard) November 8, 2017
3) Fight for the Future
This is a smaller organisation rooted in activism, but it has used 280 character tweets for a very different purpose – demonstrating impact. The tweet below makes a case against net neutrality. It utilises the extra space to full effect, making reading the tweet feel like a crawl.
It's exactly the point, and a fantastic, inventive and purposeful way of turning 280 characters to your advantage – yet another productive spin related to the rise of complaints through social media.
Fight for the Future (@fightfortheftr) November 8, 2017
4) Netflix Australia / New Zealand
Some of the best responses to the 280 character limit have been jokes about it. While many influencers and organisations have simply used it to spam a long list of emojis or created empty space, the best have taken a humorous angle – while also managing to promote themselves.
A prime example is Netflix Australia / New Zealand, who took the opportunity to deliberately misconstrue the meaning of "280 characters" and promote their hit show Orange is the New Black.
Netflix ANZ (@NetflixANZ) November 8, 2017
5) Borussia Monchengladbach
Believe it or not, Borussia Monchengladbach is the abbreviated version of this football club's name. While most sports brands were using the 280 character limit to add a hundred vowels to the name of their favourite player or list all the years in which they won trophies, Gladbach took the extra room to poke some fun at themselves.
Borussia Verein f r Leibes bungen 1900 M nchengladbach e.V. pic.twitter.com/FTBBJjPfxT
Gladbach (@borussia_en) November 8, 2017
6) Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
With nearly two decades of television under its belt, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is one of the best-known television shows on the planet. So naturally, the team behind the show's Twitter account decided to use 280 characters to keep it simple, and restate perhaps the most famous phrase in its history – complete with sound effects.
In the criminal justice system, sexually based offenses are considered especially heinous. In New York City, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious felonies are members of an elite squad known as the Special Victims Unit. These are their stories. *DUN DUN*
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (@nbcsvu) November 7, 2017
By doubling its character limit, Twitter induced a lot of backlash from its users. But once you move past the spam-like posts and relentless repetition, many organisations are showing that longer posts can be used for strong PR, with better engagement, insightful humour and even reiteration of a powerful message. Perhaps it's time to start thinking about whether double the characters can create double the impact for your organisation?