29 May 2023 |

Twitter is changing

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🐦 Everything you need to know about Twitter’s evolving content preferences

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If there’s 1 skill every social media manager needs to master, it’s adaptability.

Platforms change. Algorithms get updated. New strategies get launched.

It never stops.

And some changes are seemingly hitting Twitter right now.

[Like, actual changes that will affect your content strategy, not some random link-in-bio functionality or font change that means absolutely nothing. Lol.]

So today we’re going to run through:

  • The rise of video on Twitter
  • Long tweets — are they worth it?
  • The death of Twitter threads (allegedly)

I’ll also give you a few real examples of accounts that are leaning into these updates effectively.

I know platform updates can be overwhelming. But by the end of this piece you should have a clear-headed, rational approach for how to approach Twitter as a brand in the second half of 2023.

So… what’s changed?

🎥 The rise of video

Video content has been on Twitter for quite a while. It’s not new.

But the prioritization of it in the algorithm is new.

The above tweet from Andrea Conway, a designer at Twitter reads “excited to start doing more with media on twitter’ and shows video features like:

  • Playback speed
  • Download video
  • Captions

Hard to believe we’re not going to see video get prioritized in the algo. Whenever platforms launch a new feature or want to incentivize a content type, they tend to reward it in the algorithm. It’s common sense — and part of the reason why we’ve seen long-form tweets perform well (more on that in a sec).

So yeah. Video is coming (or already here). It’s worth thinking about how you can layer it into your strategy.

I haven’t played around with it a ton, but have toyed with these super raw, selfie style of videos:

The goal with these for me wasn’t to go viral — simply to show my audience what I sound like and look like. It’s easy to overlook the important of this when most of your content is text-based.

Video just gives you another avenue to build trust with your audience. And people who trust you are more likely to buy from your brand when they are ready.

That said, I will likely start to get into more edited, optimize video content to take advantage of this wave on Twitter (but also to run up YouTube).

Here are a few examples of use cases from accounts that have this much more dialed in than myself:

A) Repurpose short-form video from TikTok and IG Reels

This is probably the lowest hanging fruit for most brands if you already have a presence on those two platforms.

I want to share a few examples of accounts that are doing this well.

One is Dakota Robertson. He’s taking his short-form, talking head style of videos and reposting them over on Instagram.

They’re already edited for viewer retention and high quality, so all he has to do is post them again on Twitter with a bit of a curiosity-inducing caption.

Here’s an example:

If I was running a brand account, this would be a good opportunity to test some founder videos — or members of your team depending on how big your company is.

Zach Pogrob is also doing this well. He’s taking the same animations (created by Hunter Weiss) that made him go insanely viral on Instagram and posting them on Twitter.

They’re not ripping quite the same as on IG (yet), but they’re doing impressive numbers. This example pulled in 15K views.

Also generally seeing these animations out-perform most of Zach’s text posts.

My takeaway here is that if you (or your brand) have a format that crushes on another platform, it is for sure worth testing on Twitter now.

[You can read the full interview I did with Zach on how he gained 1.6M followers in 6 months, right here]

B) Post full-length long form content straight from YouTube or podcasts

Twitter Blue subscribers also have the ability to post videos longer than the previous 2:20 time limit. The new time limit is 2 hours.

So now we’re seeing brands and creators post full-podcast episodes and YouTube videos straight to the Twitter timeline.

The first example of this I saw was when The All-In Podcast posted a full-length episode to Twitter:

It ripped, too. Pulled in 7M views.

Another example of this use case is The Joe Pomp Show, hosted by Joe Pompliano. He’s been posting ~7-15min YouTube videos straight to Twitter, like this one going over the ‘business behind the Monaco Grand Prix.

1.1M views.

This is powerful. Why?

Getting viewers to switch platforms mid-scroll is a gargantuan task.

Sure. We all want to run up YouTube views. That’s the gold standard. And your loyal viewers will seek your content out over there.

But when you require a click off-platform, you’re losing a huge chunk of potential social traffic.

But Tommy, why not post clips to Twitter and then link to YouTube?

Yes! Do that! But also post the full video. Do both.

The point of posting the full video to Twitter is to lure in more first time viewers that aren’t getting served your content on YouTube, and don’t care enough yet to click off of Twitter and watch.

And at the end of the day — I don’t care where my community consumes my content. I just care that they do consume it.

So play around with this if you have long-form video content that you are publishing on other platforms.

📜 Long-form tweets

Semi-recently, Twitter introduced the ability for Twitter Blue subscribers to post tweets longer than 280 characters. The new character limit is 4000 characters.

Should you be taking advantage of this?

My take?

100% yes.

I am seeing my own long tweets perform quite well, and I’m seeing several other accounts have success with them.

In most cases, I see my long tweets perform better (more impressions) than those that fit the old character count.

This doesn’t mean to abandon short-form, traditional tweets. Not at all. They still serve an important purpose.

But it does mean you have a new lever to pull in your content strategy.

Long tweets are especially useful for B2B social media managers who are often posting on both Twitter and LinkedIn.

There are still platform nuances, but it’s now wayyyyy easier to copy-paste something from LinkedIn to Twitter (and vice versa) with minimal editing. Think of it like posting your best TikToks to IG Reels. It makes repurposing simple.

I’m also seeing accounts combine the video + long-tweet formats with serious success. The first example that comes to mind here is Billy Oppenheimer.

He’s a researcher for best-selling authoer, Ryan Holiday. And he often curates interesting videos he finds in his research on the Twitter timeline.

The magic is that he accompanies the video with a long-form explanation of the video in the text. Here’s an example of a viral tweet of a video of Jerry Seinfeld sharing some advice with a fellow comedian. Notice how the copy also tells the complete story.

This single tweet raked in ~16M views and ~2.5K retweets. Wild.

And I think the video + copy pairing works for 2 reasons:

  1. It accommodates multiple avenues of consumption. Written and video. By doing this, Billy increases the total possible audience that will resonate with the tweet.
  2. The combination of the somewhat long-form video + long-form text makes the dwell time on the tweet (how long viewers stay on the tweet before scrolling) longer.

This is likely rewarded by the algorithm, as it keeps users on the platform for longer.

See how that works?

So, whether you’re curating videos or creating your own, consider adding text to support the video and explain the key takeaways.

🪦 The death of threads?

This one is a bit controversial.

On May 19th, Austen Allred tweeted, “The Twitter algorithm rewards threads far too much”

And Elon replied, “Agreed.”

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And since then, a few other accounts have noted a decline in reach + engagement on their Twitter threads.

So… are threadbois screwed?

Maybe. But I wouldn’t go that far. I’m still seeing plenty of accounts have success with threads.

And the OG threadboi, Sahil Bloom, seems to agree:

I haven’t posted a proper thread in a few weeks as I’ve been head down with the agency and creating content for clients. So I can’t speak to my own experience here.

Though I am getting back in the thread game this week when I’m back in ATX, so I’ll have some updates for you in the next couple weeks.

My hypothesis is that threads did get de-ranked in the algorithm, but not so much that they’re “dead.”

Again. Pure speculation here. Not tryna be one of those shitheads on LinkedIn that’s like “HeRE’s hOW tHE AlGOriTHm WORkS.”

But threads are still a valuable way to convey information on complex topics that a single tweet won’t do justice to.

So if threads have been a pillar of your content strategy, don’t trip. Pay attention to performance, and start to layer in some other content types. Like test long-form tweets versus threads on the same topic.

Also, consider using more visuals in your threads as a test. This could be an interesting opportunity to use Twitter’s recent prioritization of video to catapult thread performance.

Even adding simple graphics, like this thread by Sahil, could be a good way to make your content stand out:

There’s not necessarily a ‘right answer’ here. It comes down to creating a hypothesis (ex: I think visuals will improve thread performance) and testing it over a defined period of time.

Scientific method, baby.

My take on Twitter in 2023

It feels like the content prioritization is balancing out a bit. Which I see as a good thing.

For a while, the playbook to success on Twitter was to spam threads. Super writing heavy.

I didn’t mind this, as I prefer writing, but I do see how this is limiting for lots of brands.

With video coming into the mix, and different formats of writing being prioritized, there are more levers to pull as a social media manager.

This is a net positive for true social media managers.

Twitter now reminds me a bit more of Instagram, and in a good way.

There are several different avenues you can take to grow an account. You’re not pigeon-holed into a certain content format.

For example, on Instagram, you can grow via Reels, carousels, still images, or a mix of it all.

Twitter is becoming that way now with the addition of video as a main focus.

If writing is your strong-suit, sick. Threads still work well enough and you have long-form tweets to test as well. Oh, and old school < 280 character stuff still works as well.

If you prefer video, amazing. Now you have a real path to growth on Twitter without having to ‘repurpose’ your video into written content.

I believe the best brands (and personal brands) will excel in a mix of both. I know I am going to be adding in some more video content — but my threads and written stuff ain’t going anywhere.

More levers for growth mean more unique brand social presences — not the same copy-pasted strategies.

That said, this newfound optionality can be overwhelming. Where the hell do you start?

My general recommendation for any SMMs or founders:

Pick 2-3 content formats you want to test. Ideally make them series. Sprint for 30-60 days and see if they show signs of life. If not, rotate to the next.

For example you could test a thread-based content series alongside a video-based content series. See what your audience resonates with more. Double down on that.

You want to avoid throwing shit at the wall and seeing what sticks. That can be fine on occasion, but you want to systematically test each content type and value prop.

In the end, a more balanced algorithm helps everyone. It makes it so there isn’t one repetitive playbook that every account is pigeon-holed into.

So despite what you think about Elon, I think this is a step in the right direction.

I just hope we don’t go so far in the direction of video that we lose written content as a medium on Twitter. Only time will tell.

TLDR:

  1. Video is working well. Play around with it. I would start with repurposing video assets that you already have available (TikToks, IG Reels, even YT videos or podcasts).

If your brand has a strong Twitter presence, perhaps consider a native series for Twitter.

  1. Long-form tweets are showing positive signs. They are worth testing if they make sense for your brand.
  2. Threads may be on a slight decline, but they still work. Don’t rely on them, but also don’t panic if they have been a core pillar of your social media strategy.
  3. Pick 2-3 content formats you want to test. Ideally make them series. Sprint for 30-60 days and see if they show signs of life. If not, rotate to the next.

That’s all I’ve got for today.

PS – Memes also still work. In case you were wondering.