Last month Twitter announced that its character limit may change from 140 to 10,000 – the same character limit it uses for its Direct Messages product – toward the end of this quarter.

What does this mean for pharma? Aside from changing one of the founding features of Twitter – which asked us all to learn to be concise and snappy – we now may have more opportunity.

What was once holding us back (the limited character count, coupled with the regulatory requirement to include fair balance) may be a thing of the past. Of course, this all depends on how Twitter decides to format and display the additional characters. Still, the change could be monumental, as re/code mentioned in their January article, “Expanding the limit is a sign that Twitter and Jack Dorsey are willing to make serious changes in hopes of luring new users.”

Twitter is currently testing a version of the product in which tweets appear the same way they do now – displaying just 140 characters – but including some call to action indicating that there is more content you can’t see. Clicking on the tweet would then expand the text to reveal more content. The goal of this format is to keep the timeline flow the same.

So our tweets would have to remain concise and, if possible, keep the branded messaging content within the expanded portion – thus making our job to get people to “expand the tweet.” This is much easier than asking them to click to our website for more detail, which, in the long run, means that more people will see our messages.

The potential change in Twitter character limits might help pharma in other ways, as well:

1. The Google-Twitter deal went “live” earlier this year, giving tweets top exposure in Google’s search results. More content-rich tweets would potentially perform better in the search results, giving brands another platform with which to attract organic website visits. (We can help you with that.)

2. There is also a possibility for more in-depth analytics. Currently our measurement is limited to likes, retweets, profile clicks, etc. But we could eventually expand that to time spent engaging with our content just like we have “time spent on website.” (We can help you with that too.)

While the general Twitter user world has expressed a “meh” response to this change, it does demonstrate Twitter’s increased focus on helping brands and marketers make better use of the platform. The possibility that lies ahead for Pharma is even more exciting as the platform might finally align with FDA’s requirements. Stay tuned!

-Laney Landsman, Group Vice President, Health

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