When 140 Characters Isn’t Enough

Twitter is a wonderful tool, but 140 characters is often inadequate to communicate a complete message.

Twitter is a wonderful tool, but 140 characters is often inadequate to communicate a complete message. While longer tweets requiring a click to expand would have provided an answer for issues like answering questions, most users would not click through. As an advertising or messaging vehicle, longer tweets would likely prove ineffective.

One thing the restrictive character limit does is force companies to get creative with social media efforts. Here’s how some companies knock 140 characters out of the park.

Informational graphic ads

A short message with a graphic ad attached can say everything you want to say and lend the visual appeal to make it more shareable. The British Council recently promoted a tweet with an eye-catching mini-event poster detailing all of the information you need to attend the Women of the World Festival.

Applebees uses graphics to great advantage. This GIF has it all: food porn, information, a link and its signature #CarsideToGo hashtag.

Flonase offered this unique little gem: A question you click for an answer–simple, but effective. As a general rule of thumb, interactive works.

Everyone seems to know that graphics are important, but surprisingly few businesses are using them to their best advantage. Even though I follow a lot of brands, my (very active) Twitter feed is full of photos, blog titles and memes, but few informative graphics aside from blog titles. While you do see a lot of these, each one is eye-catching and unique. They are great to hook readers and draw traffic.

Tell a slideshow story

This is so easy and still so rare that it’s shocking. I searched for a commercial brand using Storify and found no good examples, but this slideshow from the American Public Health Association about the lead crisis in Michigan water is amazing. It shows everything possible. It even has an embedded video from Last Week Tonight With John Oliver.

How much information could you include in an embedded slideshow?

Embed a video

Some of the most successful accounts use all of the above. The various Twitter accounts for Microsoft are loaded with amazing visual content.

Its videos are slick, professional and compelling. You may not have the resources to produce that kind of high-ticket film, but you can stand out by getting creative and clever–for next to nothing.

Communications company Nextiva has become well-known for stellar customer service, and it responds to comments and customer service with a personal video. I’ve never seen another company do that, have you?

When you hit that 140-character wall, visuals are a great way to tell your story. Success lies in how you add value. Stunning photos are nice, but do they really convey a message? Usually not. Make your tweets stand out from the noise with unusual, appealing and informational visual content.