Why 280 characters will sink Twitter + 3 lessons from this to apply to your business

280 characters will sink Twitter. That’s 140 more then they have now, but it’s not the doubling of characters allowed that will sink them, it’s the straying from their unique selling proposition that will.

At its core, Twitter forced brevity.

And in forcing brevity, Twitter ensured that all messages pushed out COULD be seen by all who followed. “Could” is the operative word, in that with the fire hose of content meant few actually would be on there 24/7 and see everything. But with the exception of Twitter, all other platforms prioritize content – by people you connect with most often, or through paid boosting, ads or targeting. On Twitter, #hashtags also helped channel content. In short, they had a competitive advantage, and brevity was the main feature.

But they’ve just walked away from that.


What Twitter missed was the fact that they were hyper niched. It’s just that hyper niched had reached its growth potential, and shareholders like everlasting growth. Plus other competitors had “new shiny toy” features like multiple images, stories, live video, more engagement through longer copy etc.

When brands and businesses loose their way, it’s usually because they have drifted from their unique selling proposition (USP) or core offering.

I don’t have a love affair with Twitter but I do use it. One of the things that have driven me away is all the automation. At times it just seems like auto-responders talking to scheduled tweets. When there’s actually someone live on the either end of the message, its fun. And used prudently to get the attention of some reporters, or to monitor developing news, it can be a magic tool.

Twitter isn’t gone yet, but I fear it’s on the way out. Here’s what you can learn from Twitters mistakes:

1. Know your core audience. Demographics, psychographics, geographic and behavior data. Know what makes them tick.

2. Have a USP. Keep laser focused on it.

3. Know your competitive advantage. Know what you do better then your competitors, that isn’t easily copied and that that target market cares about.

4. Scan your environment and understand competitive forces. You need to be able to see shifts coming, but in responding to changes be careful to maintain focus on your unique selling proposition (USP) and competitive advantage.

What do you think? Do you welcome the 280 character format? If you’re an active Twitter user, what do you most like about the platform? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Mary Charleson

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