OPINION: Big news in the world of social media last week when Twitter announced it was testing doubling the possible length of a tweet to 280 characters to help users “be more expressive”.
Thank the Lord.
Because I for one can’t wait to hear even more from pop royalty like Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift and Rihanna – some of the most followed folks on Twitter.
Okay, you’ve already rumbled that I don’t actually follow them, but you get my drift.
But I do follow President Trump on Twitter, partly out of voyeuristic interest and partly out of a desire to know which way to run when the bombs start flying.
The immediate rush of feedback jokingly, or maybe not so jokingly, to Twitter’s announcement centred around Trump – Twitter’s 22nd most-followed Tweeter – with many questioning how much more trouble he will cause with twice the amount of space in which to “express” himself.
Twitter co-founder Biz Stone was quick to point out that Trump was not part of group testing the new tweet limit.
Founded in 2006, Twitter is now huge worldwide with 300 million users. But that’s still in the little leagues of social media when compared with over 2 billion Facebook users, 1.5 billion YouTube users, and the 1.2 billion who use the WhatsApp instant messaging service.
Down on the second rung alongside Twitter are Instagram at 700 million users, LinkedIn at 467 million and Snapchat at about 250 million.
As in life, marketing and communication now relies heavily on social media platforms to push out messages, promotions and sales to customers.
You know this: marketers are after you all the time trying to target ads that get your attention.
It’s why I’m constantly getting ads on Facebook for face cream and plus sized dresses: according to my demographic information this is what some algorithm has decided I need the most.
I recently booked a hotel through an aggregated booking site, so now it’s a constant diet of travel ads.
But with more channels arriving all the time, marketers struggle to work out which one’s best to have those sale-orientated chats in the first place.
Here’s my own example. I was recently in the UK trying to organise a get-together with old friends.
Of the seven people I wanted to invite, most prefer to use different channels of communication: two only responded to text messages, one to emails, three were prepared to communicate through Facebook messages and one connected mostly through ‘What’s App’.
My point is that whilst it was a nightmare trying to organise that dinner, it was a great example of how a largely similar group of people (age, background, general demographics) are so split in what social media and communication channels they connect through.
When a company is trying to get through to you, they are faced with the same problem.
But here’s a rough rule of thumb – and it’s probably got a lot to do with what was the most popular platform at the time someone first got onto social media – Facebook is a favourite with all age groups and genders and a hit with older users – over half of all 65-plus online users are using Facebook.
Twitter is more popular with 18-29 year olds and, according to one US survey, with those who are more highly educated. Perhaps it does take more thought to squash your life insights, however random, into 140 characters.
Pinterest is most-loved by female users, as is Instagram, both of which appeal to women and the 18-29 age group; Snapchat is favoured by the under-24s. LinkedIn is favoured by professionals who are more likely to have a tertiary degree but, perhaps surprisingly, has its biggest user group among 18–29 year-olds.
With the average person spending nearly two hours a day on social media, you can be sure marketing companies are going to keep finding ways to get your attention.
Apparently that translates to a total of five years and four months spent over a lifetime. I think I’ll go for a walk and turn my phone off.