New questions for a new Twitter product

Twitter is said to be introducing a product to expand its 140 character limit, according to reports. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons under CC license)

Twitter is said to be introducing a product to expand its 140 character limit, according to reports. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons under CC license)

A report emerged today that Twitter is to expand its 140 character limit, by way of a new product. According to a report from the tech news site Recode, the product would allow long form content to be published to the social network.

Twitter hasn’t unveiled any plans officially, but multiple sources with the social network told Recode that the product has the support of interim CEO Jack Dorsey. Dorsey and his team have been trying to fix user growth issues that were at the helm of its recent quarterly earnings. Twitter celebrates its tenth birthday next year, so if the network confirms that this product is going ahead, it may pay off in the long run for its investors and users.

For the media industry however, the news of this product presents a two-fold scenario – first, it is likely to set to compete with Facebook which has more characters to work with as well as the ability to publish long form content through Instant Articles. This may put more users off Facebook and may send more to content journalists and news organizations are promoting on Twitter.

The second is the issue of audience engagement and journalism on Twitter. With this product becoming available, there will likely be opportunities to do more when it comes to breaking news in addition to other pieces. Journalists can experiment more with Twitter and help create elements of a story that can be fresh and inviting, that allow their coverage of a particular beat or event to be distinct.

This news also comes ahead of the launch of Project Lightning, currently likely to be at the end of the year, so this may lead to new ways into how news organizations can retain and attract users of the social network.

Although very little is known about the product, it is likely to warrant a significant evaluation of a newsroom’s social strategy, and may put Twitter above other social networks. If this does indeed go ahead, it will signal not just a win for Twitter on its user growth problems, but for news organizations too, not just for content, but for engaging new audiences.

For now, however, we must wait, and see what’s in store. Perhaps, the new year may present new ideas for newsrooms, and another unique chapter in Twitter’s relationship with the journalism community.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and is a contributing blogger to the SPJ blog network on British media issues and social media’s role in the future of journalism.

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is Co-Student Life Editor and a contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

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