Twitter update: ‘Free’ photos and gifs and polls!

Now that Twitter has confirmed its latest evolution, we’re having a look at what the changes could mean if you’re using the channel for your company’s marketing.

What’s happening

“When you add attachments like photos, gifs, videos, polls, or quote tweets, that media will no longer count as characters within your tweet. More room for words!”

Rich media assets really make your tweets stand out, gain attention and drive engagement. However, there’s always been the dilemma of style over substance. With only 140 characters at your disposal, could you forfeit 20 to allow for an image or GIF and still tell your business story? Now there’s no need.

This is both great and a challenge: marketers will need to work harder to stand out – using breathtaking photos or really clever graphics should go some way to setting you apart from the mundane.

It’s not featured in the public-facing blog, but Twitter confirmed in its developers’ one that you will be limited to a single ‘free’ gif, video, poll or quote tweet, while you can have up to four photos without denting your 140 characters.

What’s not happening

Contrary to Bloomberg’s initial report back in May, you will still need to allow 23 characters for site links in your tweet, while hashtags – another candidate for exclusion from the count – will still make up your 140-character maximum.

What might be happening

When Twitter announced the ‘do more with 140 characters’ project, there were other elements included beyond media attachments.

The ability to retweet yourself – and therefore easily repurpose content – happened back in June to little fanfare, but it’s changes to @name usage that are potentially more interesting for marketers.

Not counting @names does mean that you’re able to talk to a group of people without worrying about abridging your message. However, there were concerns that this could lead to a spambot frenzy, so Twitter is still testing that one to try to find a way to make it work.

Dropping the .@ convention at the start of tweets to broadcast them more widely was another possibility, and it would save you a character, but does throw up questions about what if you don’t want to broadcast those tweets.

On the surface, sending a direct message seems to be the answer – particularly now you get read receipts – but dropping .@ seems to have fallen through the gaps of the announcement, which could have something to do with the wider @names discussion mentioned above.

So it looks like Twitter is going to get more visual, as users start adding more rich media in their messaging. What do you make of the changes? If you think you’ll need to up your Twitter game as a result, get in touch with The Crocodile and we can discuss how to optimise your social media.