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Twitter’s Evolution and What It Means for Your Government Account

Editor’s Note:
During Virtual Office Hours, our bi-weekly social media training sessions (sign up here for your free session!), we hear how Twitter can be a challenging platform. Yes, it is sometimes hard to get your message across with only 140 characters. Today we share DigitalGov’s blog about Twitter’s 5 upcoming changes – to make your tweets more robust and communicating with your followers simpler. And they apply to all Twitter handles, not just government ones.

DigitalGov Logo - resizedTwitter has come a long way. In ten years of evolution, we’ve seen Twitter go from a simple text messaging service to a versatile platform, which in the words of Twitter, provides a “rich canvas for creative expression featuring photos, videos, hashtags, Vines, and more.”

Now Twitter is offering additional enhancements to their service to make it easier to engage with customers and accomplish our mission.

So what do all these upcoming changes mean for your government account?

  • Media links (photos, GIFs, videos, polls, or Quote Tweets) will no longer count against your 140 character count, so more space to get your message across! As exciting as that is – don’t shut down your link-shortener account just yet. For the time being, URLs will still count against the 140 character limit.

Screenshot of "compose new Tweet" from twitter, highlighting add media buttons

  • @names will no longer count against the 140-character limit in replies. Plus, Twitter has increased the “@names” field to 50, up from 10, included in your reply without being counted in your character count. The upside is now you can talk directly to 50 people instead of just 10, the downside is the greater potential exposure to spam.

Screenshot of "compose new Tweet" from twitter, demonstrating how to @ a twitter name

  • When you start a new Tweet with an @name, you will no longer need to put a period in front of the “@” character to have the Tweet seen by all your followers.

Screenshot of "compose new Tweet" demonstrating you can remove the period before adding a twitter handle

  • Replying to a tweet still means simply hitting the reply button. Your reply will still be visible to people who follow both you and the person you’re replying to.

 

Example tweet by @USCIS demonstrating how to reply to a tweet

  • However, now you can make replies visible to all by retweeting yourself and quoting your own tweets. This is a great feature if you need to update a Tweet, provide additional information, or clarify something. In other words, less hassle and better looking Tweets.

Example tweet by @USCIS demonstrating how to retweet a tweet

  • Twitter’s changes are geared toward streamlining their platform and making it more user-friendly. As communicators, these changes will simplify our efforts, save us time, and allow us more space to broadcast our message to the public we serve.