Twitter Plans to Expand into Long-Form Content

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Twitter is getting ready to roll out a new feature that would permit the direct publishing of long-form content on its platform, which could be one of Twitter’s more important upgrades since increasing the character limit from 140 to 280. Users can compose articles utilizing rich formatting and uploaded media with the future tool, dubbed Twitter Notes, which can then be tweeted and shared with followers after publication.

Prior to a planned public introduction, the feature is reportedly being tested with a small group of users. (Twitter declined to comment but stated that it would shortly provide any developments on the service.)

If widely embraced, Twitter Notes may alter how certain users use the social media site to express their more in-depth ideas and opinions.

Today, it’s usual for users to establish numbered Twitter threads to link a collection of tweets together for storytelling purposes or to discuss any topic that requires more characters than Twitter currently supports. With the introduction of a new Twitter composer screen that made multi-tweet messages, or tweetstorms as often called, easier to design and publish, Twitter finally adopted threads in 2017 as a result of this user engagement. The company had claimed that at the time, hundreds of thousands of threads were uploaded by users per day. Since then, that number has most certainly increased.

Twitter threads can be a bit awkward to browse, especially for longer content, even if they stimulate engagement when users click to explore the linked tweets and replies. Because of this, useful bots have emerged, such as Thread Reader App, that convert these tweetstorms into links with the thread’s individual posts written like an article for ease of reading. Nowadays, users frequently tweet “@threadreaderapp unroll” to ask the bot for assistance in thread replies.

Beyond threads, people have even posted screenshots of lengthy messages they had written in the Notes app on their smartphone to get past Twitter’s character limits. This is a fast way to reach a vast audience, but Twitter doesn’t gain anything from it because the text in the screenshot can’t be searched for, and the hashtags can’t be clicked like they would be if the content were posted directly to the site.

By enabling users to compose lengthy essays directly on Twitter, Twitter Notes may be able to provide a solution to both issues. Similar to tweets, the Notes would have their own URL and be able to be liked, bookmarked, sent in DMs, tweeted, and retweeted. By doing this, individuals can continue to express their opinions as before and use the platform’s potential for viral spread.

The capability had been identified in testing earlier this year by app experts, including Jane Manchun Wong and others. According to academics, Notes was first referred to as “Twitter Article.”

The feature provided formatting tools in a bar at the top of the screen similar to those found in blogging software in images Wong posted in May. These tools included the ability to bold text, add italics or strikethrough, insert ordered lists, add links, change the style, insert media and embedded items, track word count, and more. The samples demonstrated that users could also insert embedded tweets via URLs or their own bookmarks, as well as one GIF, one video, and up to four photos in their article.

Wong observed there was also a “Focus Mode” that would expand the item to a full-screen view and hide Twitter’s sidebars. She noted the functionality appeared quite polished, which suggested it could be nearing launch.

In a related series of photographs posted by app researcher Nima Owji this April, the feature was demonstrated to support saving articles as drafts and an interface for accessing both drafts and published content.

When publishing a Twitter Notes, Owji observed that users could select or uncheck boxes to automatically tweet the article to their feed, their Twitter Circle, or their Communities, as well as copy the article URL for sharing elsewhere — such on another website or in an email, for instance.

In the current version, now dubbed Notes, the feature will be accessible via users’ profiles directly to the right of the “Tweets & replies” link and before “Media,” app researchers stated.

Additionally, the development of Twitter Notes, which was discovered to be prepared for introduction in the most recent version of the Twitter app, was confirmed by mobile product intelligence business Watchful.ai. The company also confirmed that the feature was prominently displayed on user profiles, just next to “Tweets & responses.”

Users who want to write new Notes can do so by using a link added to Twitter’s main navigation, even though this link allows them to browse an account’s published Notes. During tests, Owji noticed that Twitter has been experimenting with this app icon, which was relabeled as “Write” in the left-side column of Twitter’s web app, immediately beneath Twitter Blue.

Interestingly, “Newsletters” has occupied this position since Twitter acquired Revue; this choice may indicate an effort to combine Twitter’s two long-form writing products, Notes, and Newsletters.

The advent of Twitter Notes may provide some competition with long-form writing sites, including WordPress or Medium – the latter ironically established by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams. It could be convenient for those who occasionally write article-length content and don’t want the trouble setting up and maintaining their own blog or website. If combined with newsletters, it may also potentially compete with the popular newsletter platforms like Substack, whose authors routinely promote their subscriptions via Twitter.

Facebook has shown that social media companies’ on-platform blogging initiatives don’t always work out as planned. Facebook had tried to compete in this area when, in 2006, it debuted a bare-bones blogging function (also called Notes) to offer users a method to write long-form content that wouldn’t fit in a Facebook status update. The function was then a component of Facebook’s overall plan to pursue original content, although it never gained popularity as a publishing platform. In October 2020, Facebook quietly discontinued Notes. Despite this, Twitter Notes might have some difficulties in the future. With its newsletter platform Bulletin, Facebook is currently pursuing Substack.

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However, users can be reluctant to post to a social platform where commercial goals are constantly shifting instead of a website focusing more on creating and sharing long-form content.

Like this, Twitter will need to persuade users that its long-form publishing tool is a feature it’s devoted to, not just one of its many experiments that it may abandon if it doesn’t gain popularity.

Additionally, as Twitter waits for Elon Musk’s purchase to be finalized, the company’s entire product initiative strategy is in turmoil. Musk has declared his desire to participate in developing Twitter’s product and has previously emphasized that eradicating bots and increasing Twitter’s user base and revenue were his top priorities. A Bloomberg story also stated Twitter has been scaling back resources across several of its long-term projects, like Spaces, Communities, and Newsletters, ahead of Musk’s arrival.

Unless Twitter’s internal turbulence prevents it, Twitter is anticipated to debut Twitter Notes in the upcoming weeks.

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Barb has worked within the digital advertising and marketing space for over 20 years. Over the years, she found it difficult to find information on the simplest of subjects tied to the digital marketing space, so she decided to embark on a journey to create a space that others may appreciate.

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