Twitter continues to tweak features to appeal to users
- Twitter users are responding favorably to the platform's doubling of its tweet length from 140 to 280 characters, which began last month. In an analysis of 30,000 tweets, tweets longer than the standard 140 characters were retweeted nearly twice as often and were favorited an average of 67.8% more often, according to a SocialFlow study published by CNET.
- Twitter has also started to show view counts on videos shared on the platform, per AdAge. For the counts, it will stick to Media Rating Council standards where one view requires at least two seconds of playtime with a minimum of 50% of the video on the screen. Counts will not show on live streams or content from media partners.
- The video counts are aimed at encouraging sharing and will highlight the overwhelming or underwhelming popularity of individual videos, per AdAge. Advertisers already have access to deeper analytics showing Twitter engagement so the impact for them will be minimal.
Twitter's recent moves indicate it is thinking about how to appeal to users, and in the process perhaps stave off declining ad revenue. The platform's move to expand the maximum length of tweets generated plenty of buzz and backlash online when it was announced — supporters were pleased with more space to express ideas and critics scorned the drawn-out process of the new feature's debut. Now that the dust has settled, it appears that the change has been generally successful thus far. With the increased character limit, users now have more flexibility when writing tweets, which could alleviate some common frustrations with the social platform and keep users from fleeing to other social media sites.
Either way, Twitter likely welcomed the press that took some attention off its latest struggles surrounding declining sales and stalled global user growth, especially after major brands like Charmin, Kit Kat and White Castle leveraged the longer limit with a plethora of emojis, repeated words and in some cases just longer messaging.
Twitter's move to display video views represents a tiny step toward the company's mission to make the platform more attractive to users, with the view counts serving as a subtle nudge to encourage users and publishers to share videos.
These efforts are likely also part of a broader effort to address challenges the company faces. Earlier this year, Twitter redesigned its website and mobile app. It adopted more comprehensive cyberbullying and anti-harassment features, and now gives users the option to accept or deny direct messages. This fall, Twitter launched Promote Mode, a $99-per-month subscription ad service allowing advertisers to send up to 10 promoted tweets per day. The new service targets small businesses as a low-cost, micro-marketing tool. The social network is also focused on selling data with its enterprise API to increase revenue.
While data licensing made up about 15% of its revenue in Q3 compared to 11.5% a year earlier, its latest earnings report also shows an overall 8% year-over-year decline in advertising revenue. Despite the falling ad revenue, third-party research cited by the company shows that Twitter can deliver ROIs that are 40% higher than other media channels, and its promoted video ads can be up to 20% more effective than other Twitter ad formats in increasing sales for brand marketers.