It’s worth wondering what Twitter is planning with its pending shift to a 10,000-character limit – a decision CEO Jack Dorsey announced Tuesday was in the offing. Perhaps, as John Herman explored at The Awl, it will mean that Twitter takes one step closer, as Facebook as done, to being not merely a delivery system for journalists to preview or link stories – or even live-tweet them – but more of a full on media delivery vehicle. “If readers never leave Twitter, what does a publication mean to them?” Herman asks.
Good question. And it may be that somewhere in Twitter’s plans is a scheme to shift from being a content connector to a more robust content generator like Facebook has accomplished with its Instant articles – the ones that don’t wait to load in a regular old browser, but immediately in Facebook itself, thereby maintaining engagement and time on its site, rather than elsewhere.
“We’ve spent a lot of time observing what people are doing on Twitter, and we see them taking screenshots of text and tweeting it,” Dorsey posted, in a screenshot, Tuesday. “Instead, what if that text…was actually text? Text that could be searched. Text that could be highlighted. That’s more utility and more power.”
Well, quite – but then the logical question that follows is about who, exactly, will benefit most from this new utility and power.
Is it the user? Will Twitter be a more enjoyable, or fruitful, experience because folks can now rant for longer, in one tweet rather than 10? Better question: will the average Twitter user need 10,000 characters? Is this not a fundamental change of what Twitter is, and always has been? Is this not just now a vertically crawling blog? I thought we were past that.
More likely the people who will benefit most from this new utility and power – who will find it most useful to be able to read actual text, created on Twitter, rather than photographed and posted – are advertisers. And, thus, subsequently, Twitter’s investors.
If you are an interested party, looking to place an ad with Twitter, this page, called “Keyword Targeting” is likely an important one. “Keyword targeting allows you to reach Twitter users based on keywords in their search queries, recent Tweets, and Tweets they recently engaged with.” Wouldn’t it be better if there were more words via which you could more effectively target your ads? And might that mean, for a tech company whose user growth is slowing down and which “lowered its expectations” for the most recent quarter, that the value of those ads would possibly go up?
I’m not sure. But what if that text was actually more than just text?