What Twitter’s 280 character update means for your event

If you logged into your Twitter account in the last couple of days and noticed an avalanche of essay-like tweets, you’re not alone. Twitter have just rolled out arguably the most major update the platform has ever seen, doubling the character limit of tweets from 140 to 280.

Once the novelty of posting a few extra emojis in your tweets wears off, you’ll need to work out what this expanded character count means for your event marketing. It might sound like a simple case of ‘just an extra 140 characters’, but if used correctly you can leverage the #280character movement to make your event stand out online.

Entrant interaction

Twitter has now become a hugely improved customer service tool overnight, and you should be taking advantage of that.

Today’s event entrants are increasingly turning to social media for instant answers to their questions. Twitter is often the preferred avenue for this, as its bitesize messages make it the perfect platform for an entrant to fire off a quick question about your event.

But until now, tweeting a response to these questions has been an exercise in frustration. No doubt you’ve all been there - desperately trying to cram a complex answer into just 140 characters, shortening words, removing punctuation, and generally doing things that would make your high school English teacher cry.

If you’ve previously avoided Twitter for that very reason, it’s time to revisit the platform. With the new character limit, you’ll be able to put together a much more detailed response, keeping your entrants happy and saving your reputation with the spelling police.

Get creative

Brands around the world have been joining in with the #280character craze, and events are no different.

The Virgin Money London Marathon have used the added characters to share the full history of their men’s elite race in one tweet:

VMLM 280 character tweet

While Prudential RideLondon have given their followers a small taste of event day with a flurry of cyclist emojis:

PRL tweet

So, how will you use the newfound freedom to make your event tweets interesting? From posting extended quotes by your winners, to a full list of results, the possibilities are endless.

Don’t be tempted to overdo the hashtags though - the sweetspot is usually around two per post. Trying to tag onto an overload of popular hashtags with your extra characters is a recipe for disaster.

A bigger audience

Twitter are betting big on the 280 character update. Over the past couple of years their monthly active user figures have been staying still or falling, with some users turning to the greater freedom of platforms like Facebook.

They’re hoping that this update will change that, and initial signs are looking good. Over 400,000 tweets have been posted with the #280characters hashtag, and previous users are returning to the site in droves to see what all the fuss is about.

That bigger user base means an increased audience for your event. If Twitter has been taking a backseat in your social strategy, you’ll likely need to reassess and pay more attention to the platform again.

Don’t get carried away

When Twitter first launched in 2006, it marketed itself on its brevity. Succinct, punchy messages were a breath of fresh air in a social media landscape that had become overly crowded.

That’s true now more than ever. Ask yourself this - if every tweet is now a meandering, meaningless word dump, what is going to make your event stand out? That’s right - short, well written messages.

Unless a tweet desperately needs it, try to keep your posts brief. Remember, last year’s Twitter update made photos, videos, GIFs, polls and quotes exempt from the character count, so for most tweets 140 characters should still be enough.


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