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Is Longer Twitter Key To Effective Customer Service Today?

Many erroneously dismiss Twitter as a fun (or, perhaps, frustrating) way to follow politics, celebrities, the news, and more.

However, for anyone focused on delivering first class customer service — and connecting with customers wherever they might be — Twitter has become an essential tool.

To that end, the Forbes Coaches Council recently offered “Seven Ways To Best Use Twitter For Customer Service” to “offer tips for using Twitter for customer service.” Among the keys:

  • Respond Quickly: People expect you to respond to a social media message like you would a phone call. So if you open this Pandora’s box of customer service on Twitter, know that the expectations on response time will need to be personalized and fast.”
  • Generate Genuine Human Connections: Be real, be authentic, be conversational and be focused on your customers’ needs. Address their comments with empathy, compassion, solutions and gratitude. Stay on-brand and aligned with your company values in all communications.”
  • Learn From What People Are Saying: Every tweet is…packed with learning. So listen to your feed even more than you tweet. Choose to invite your audience into a connection by learning about them. Offer insights, inquiries and opportunities to engage them in the moment, while provoking their thought long past the moment.”

Burger King has the Whopper; McDonald’s, the Big Mac. Their brand is their brand, right? Social media company Twitter has the Tweet, right? A character count of 140, unchanging through the 11 seasons of Twitter’s history, and indelibly Twitter’s brand.

So why is Twitter moving to 280 characters?

More Users Sought

Well, the business strategy is simple. Twitter has been plagued with declining sales and stagnant user growth, both of which have pressured revenues. Investors have not been completely happy with the business leadership and would like to see more users and more revenue.

Twitter currently has 328 million users, who presumably value the short pith and speed of the tweet. They include the current president of the U.S., Donald Trump.

But users in countries whose languages convey more in fewer characters, such as Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, tweet more frequently than people in countries whose languages require more characters. These languages include English and Spanish.

In addition, Twitter users can now use images, gifs, and emoticons, all requiring more space. The ability to use these features is relatively recent, so the expanding character limit provides more space to use them

So the 280-character limit is designed to entice more users, more tweets, and hopefully more revenue as a result.

In addition, Twitter pointed out that the 140-character brand was somewhat arbitrary, left over from the origin of the tweet in SMS text, which had a 160-character limit.

Will more users tweet at the longer length?

Troubles May Remain

Reaction to the longer character count was immediate on Twitter, with many users scoffing at the idea of using 280 characters. After all, it’s the compressed space, few words, and speed that has larger distinguished Twitter from a really short e-mail.

However, many users have also used ellipses to indicate there’s more to read, or linked to other sources. The longer length may allow them to summarize the ellipses material or the link, which would mean more brevity for readers.

A larger challenge to Twitter is that the site is increasingly seen as the home of robot tweets rather than human ones. Researchers have indicated that up to 15% of tweets at any given time may be generated by bots rather than people.

Twitter has also become associated with trolls and incivility. To be sure, this association is occurring in tandem with other social media sites, but Twitter has received significant attention for the behavior of tweeters against others.

All of this is key for any business to understand when considering how best to use Twitter — and other social media platforms — as part of customer service operations.