From Twitter updates to artisanal content – content marketing trends

More space for content on Twitter

This week, Twitter revealed that @-replies and media attachments would no longer eat into the platform’s famous 140-character per post limit. The social media leviathan also announced that it Twitter_user_phonewould be enabling users to retweet and quote from their own tweets without the need to count their characters.

But, what effect (if any) will this have on content strategy?

Let’s start with a practical look at the changes. Taking an image or GIF out of the character limit equation frees up 23 characters, or 16% of the limit. The ‘@’ tags for names take up to 12 characters each, which can quickly rack up with a group message.

This will definitely come in handy for businesses looking to post native advertising content with accompanying media, and increase the amount of overall content posted (which Twitter could dearly use right now). And, as the average spend of businesses on native advertising is set to increase massively, this seems like a reasonable path to follow. It will also help with influencer marketing, and expand the potential for bespoke customer outreach content.

The character limit hike helps to level the playing field with the likes of Facebook and LinkedIn, but can the move realistically be expected to assist Twitter in making up ground on such established rivals?

While this move undoubtedly shows that Twitter has been paying attention to criticism within the context of the wider social media eco-system, it looks unlikely to revive the platform’s flagging fortunes. Facebook – while not basing their brand around it in the same way as Twitter – once had a character limit too (5,000), but removing this had very little effect on user behaviour.

That’s the rub of it. If a company wants to post longer-form content with links and images, they default to Facebook. If they want a visual media extravaganza, they’ll head to Instagram or Pinterest. In essence, this is an introspective manoeuvre, and a timid one at that (just your cast your mind back to 2015 and the promise of a 10,000-character limit).

The main upside is that the idea of the 140-character limit remains intact. This figure is an integral part of the Twitter brand. Without it, the platform would have almost nothing on the rest.

Is the conversational tone making way for artisanal content?

There’s been a shift in the content marketing zeitgeist from a preference for conversational, to artisanal tone. That’s according to Nikki Gilliland of Econsultancy, who recently penned an insightful article detailing the specifics of this transition.

Innocent (the smoothie makers who sold their scruples to Coca Cola) were at the forefront of popularising the conversational tone, Nikki says. You could also throw the likes of Apple into this pot. This switch did a decent job of seeing off the content marketing ‘hard sell’, binned complex language and aimed to appeal to consumers by making them feel like the company was a laid back buddy that’s sat right next to them.

The change began with small, independent companies, arguably influenced by the passion of the blogosphere and food-porn of Pinterest. It’s testament to the democratic nature of the internet; businesses not blessed with resources created something authentic that challenged the mainstream. The traction that this method has gained indicates that consumers were secretly lusting after soft sales content that goes into depth about how and where a product has been made. Nikki argues that “copy that was once quirky and witty is now thoughtful and earnest”, and puts forward a number of porcine-themed examples; Teapigs, Bottled Pigs and Primrose’s Kitchen.

But, this lovingly crafted artisanal content, hewn on the well-worn keyboards of wholegrain content marketers, was quickly adopted by major industry players. Take Costa Coffee’s mission statement: “Coffee is an art, and our baristas are artisans – learn about the passion and precision that goes into each cup.” While you might think of this as somewhat wide of the mark if you’ve just spent half your lunchbreak queuing for an overpriced wrap, there’s nothing inherently dishonest about it. However, Tesco were at the wrong end of public uproar when buyers discovered it was using the fictional ‘Boswell Farm’ to help sell its products.

People want authenticity. It’s an idea that sits at the heart of modern content strategy. But, Nikki argues: “the lines between artisan brands and artisanal branding are becoming well and truly blurred”. So, if artisanal branding is an integral column of your new content marketing strategy, do it with honesty to avoid a PR faux pas.

Summer is no longer a barren content wasteland

Received wisdom once told us that that people were too busy drinking mojitos on the deck to pay attention to content marketing during the summer months.

The logic was there; people could only access websites from old-school desktops and paving stone-style laptops, which they wouldn’t take outside on their homage to the sun. Plus, a marketing budget will only go so far, and the autumn/winter months appeared to be more lucrative.

The mobile device changed all this – we’re now connected regardless of whether we’re on holiday, lazing on the sun lounger, or enjoying a bike ride on a midsummer evening – but content strategy struggled to keep up with the pace.

That was until the recent release of a study from the Journal of Consumer Psychology, which found that the summer climate strengthened feelings of social closeness, promotes emotional warmth and even increased people’s product valuations.

So, with the right content strategy, you could steal a march on competitors and reap the dividends of targeting the season that’s been overlooked for so long.