Stay Gold, Twitter. Why the 140 Character Limit Must Remain.

In S.E. Hinton’s classic, The Outsiders, the dying Johnny Cade speaks the words, “Stay Gold” to his friend Ponyboy Curtis.  He’s trying to tell him to keep his special spark, his interest in literature and poetry, that separates him from everyone else they know.  In the larger scheme of things, its a reference to a Robert Frost poem, “Nothing Gold Can Stay”, that the two read together while hiding out.  The poem itself talks about the end of innocence and inevitable changes that happen with time.

Stay Gold, Ponyboy

This week, Recode reported that Twitter is considering expanding Tweets to handle major essay lengths (10,000 words).  Jack Dorsey of Twitter chimed in to the ongoing dialogue on the topic with a history of the character limit on the service, but basically affirming the experiment.

I’m here to ask Twitter to reconsider and here are my main reasons:

  1. The 140 character limit makes Twitter unique.  Do we really want to see Twitter conform to a Facebook standard? Heck no.
  2. We don’t need another blog engine.  10,000 words is white paper length. To me, this suggests that Twitter is trying to expand its scope to allow people to compose blogs and other long-form prose. This means competing with Medium, Facebook, WordPress and many more.  It’s already an overcrowded market.
  3. Twitter is about news and happenings in real-time.  The new moments feature works because it’s built on top of that notion.  The ad products work because they’re built on top of that concept as well.  Let’s look for ways to focus on that.

All of that said, I see tons of ways that Twitter can be improved by loosening the rules to make the 140 character rule far less encumbering.  I would recommend starting by seeing what other items in the Tweet payload could be removed from the actual 140-character message limit. For example, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Don’t include @usernames in the 140 character limit
  2. Don’t include hashtags
  3. Don’t include links
  4. Don’t include images
  5. Don’t include videos

I’ve had a long relationship with Twitter as an early user who took a while to fall in love with the service. Now that I have, it’s become an integral part of my business and personal life.  I’d like to see it forget following Facebook and staying true to its roots.

Stay gold, Twitter.

Stay Gold, Twitter
Stay Gold, Twitter

Thanks to the incredible David Meerman Scott for speaking out against this change quickly!

Digital Business Goodies from 2014

OK. Buckle in.  I’ve been saving up a number of digital business resources to share and its coming down to the wire for 2014.  Here’s a collection of resources on digital strategy, social media, online engagement, tools, video and  industry trends.  

For your holiday reading pleasure and beyond…

On Objectives and Goal Setting
Social Media Effectiveness
  • Great study on Twitter Engagement from the folks at Stone Temple Consulting.
    • A few known truths here cemented in by further evidence as well as some new learnings. You can even digest the study in multiple formats, including video and info graphic!
  • Track Maven’s Fortune 500 Instagram Report
    • Great report from the folks who deal with massive amounts of brand analytics from Instagram on a daily basis. Always great to get insight into how brands are becoming successful on this platform.
  • Track Maven’s Facebook Report 
    • Another very useful report from the folks at Track Maven. Some useful tips to make sense of the Las Vegas Marketing Fiesta that is Facebook.
Nice Examples of Tools for Online Engagement
  • Great blogs about Infographics and Data Visualization
    • Just when you get tired of infographics, someone curates a great site like this to show you how many crazy things you can do with them.
  • Interactive Tools – Customer Journey to Online Purchase by Google 
    • Topically this is interesting to me because its relevant to me as a marketer. Overall I’m just loving Think With Google’s use of interactive tools on the blog.
Online-to-Offline (020) and why we should care
If you’re already versed in what O2O is about, this may or may not be useful. For those who are not, this set of articles is really to inform about some in-market-tests taking place as we speak which are bound to change the nature of projects we work on for clients, particularly if they are in B2C industries that involve storefronts of any kind.
For many consumer oriented businesses, one of the most expensive challenges of the last 50 years has been bridging the effectiveness of advertising impressions to buying behavior.  People spend most of their disposable income locally, but retailers and other local service providers have often been blind to how online media influences their in-store traffic and behavior.  The big ad players, namely Facebook and Google have been racing to get their solutions for in-store conversion tracking into the market; as you can imagine, these solutions rely heavily on your smartphone and location based services.
Here are a few brief pieces that describe how these pilot programs will roll out:

Archetypes for location based services

mayor-of-playersIn many of our training and consulting engagements we gravitate towards the use of archetypes to depict common behaviors, both constructive and destructive.  Two that come to mind are:  Facilitation Patterns and Anti-Patterns (ThoughtWorks) and The Requirements Super Heroes and Villains (Organic).

This morning, I really enjoyed this collection from the Dachis Group as related to location based services, The Mayor of Players and Other Location Based Services Archetypes.

In the article, Brad Kenney identifies a number of behaviors exhibited by frequent users of location based services, such as Foursquare, Facebook and Yelp.  They include:

The “trend setter” … takes pride in being the first of social group to begin using a new service or feature.

The “time killer” … looks to alleviate boredom or fill time using mobile apps such as LBS.

The “social surfer” … sees who else has checked in to a specific place, enjoys voyeuristic exploration of other user profiles.

The “mayor of players” … enthusiastically engages in competitive behaviors such as “mayorship battles”.

The “scavenger hunter” … looks to create a collection of experiences, badges and/or other artifacts.

The “status seeker” … only checks in to the “right places” and is concerned with maintaining and enhancing personal brand.

The “knowledge miner” … searches for the most recent or relevant information from LBS services to improve customer experience by gaining the knowledge of regular patrons.

The “do-gooder” … is incented to participate by a perception that their activities are having a positive impact on others, the planet, etc.

The “social seeker” … announces location in order to facilitate real-world interaction with friends or enable serendipitous interaction and connection with friends or strangers.

The “trip planner” … facilitates social bonding or group cohesion by using LBS to plan group outings.

The “life logger” … obsessively tracks life lists, captures past activities/personal or experiential history for pleasure or for “quantified self” programs.

The “discount hunter” … actively searches for location-based coupons/deals to save money.

A final wild card archetype to consider in this LBS tarot deck is the “privacy activist”, who is so concerned about privacy issues that overly promoted check-ins, push notifications etc. may cause negative sentiment or hostile or aversive behaviors that then are relayed to their social network – which is the exact opposite of the intended effect of any social campaign.

How accurate do these archetypes seem to you? Does anyone in your social circles resemble one or more of them?

indirectly slashdotted

It was very cool to be quoted in today’s article on RWW about Slashdot and its relevance today.

Slashdot Struggles to Remain Relevant in The Social Web

To elaborate, I think that all of the comments in the article are pretty fair. Slashdot has definitely lost relevance; this saddens me a bit as it was one of the major forces that really helped solidify my love for the web and technology in general. I recognize that there are certainly elements to the community which are a bit exclusive and not as publicly accessible as some other sites such as digg, however, I also feel that is part of the community fabric of the site. I personally have never felt any sort of community with digg or reddit or any of the other ‘aggregation’ types of sites; I have always perceived them to be web ‘features’.
In any case, I thought this was a timely and well done piece by the RWW team. Obviously journalism is a medium that is ever evolving, but this is definitely an outlet to keep an eye on. I also Slashdotted the RWW article here.