new twitter features affect legal marketingThe Times They Are a-Changin’ –
Bob Dylan, 1964

When it comes to social media, it is becoming increasingly difficult for legal marketers to keep up with all the rapid changes that are taking place. In the last two months, Twitter announced two new features and changes to its platform that may have a significant impact on a law firm’s digital marketing strategy. While these changes may have a significantly bigger impact on companies that sell products to consumers, it is still worthwhile to consider how these new Twitter features affect legal marketing in the realm of social media. Let’s examine these new features and their potential impact on legal marketing.

Character Limit

In early January, Twitter announced that it was building a new feature that would allow users to tweet content longer than the traditional 140-character limit, and that it was targeting a launch date toward the end of Q1, according to multiple sources familiar with the company’s plans. Twitter is currently considering a 10,000-character limit, according to these sources. This new development would have significant implications on content publishers and make Twitter more like its fellow social networks Facebook and LinkedIn.

How would this affect legal marketing? Well, for one thing, legal marketers would now be able to more easily promote their content without having to worry about the 140-character limitation. This would also provide content marketers with additional opportunities to develop and promote longer content and larger pictures on Twitter.

How this all will play out remains to be seen. Twitter is currently testing a version of the product in which tweets appear the same way they do now, displaying just 140 characters, with some kind of call to action that there is more content that you can’t see. Clicking on the tweets would then expand them to reveal more content. The point of this is to keep the same look and feel for the timeline.

However, it will be interesting to see if making tweets bigger by adding more content or bigger pictures will have a negative impact on user engagement. It is entirely possible that if tweets take a longer time to read or take up more space on a user’s screen, users will view and engage with fewer of them.

Timeline

Twitter also announced on February 10 that it was launching a new feature that uses an algorithm to reorder how users see tweets on their timeline. The new feature, which is currently offered as an option, will enable users to see the tweets that are most important to them. This is a major change from the way that users see tweets on their timeline up until now. Always reverse chronological order.

Mike Jahr, senior engineering manager at Twitter, explained how it works: “You flip on the feature in your settings; then, when you open Twitter after being away for a while, the tweets you’re most likely to care about will appear at the top of your timeline—still recent and in reverse chronological order. The rest of the tweets will be displayed right underneath, also in reverse chronological order, as always.”

Twitter’s algorithm will work much like the one that Facebook has used for quite some time. The algorithm will detect what each user is most interested in. If, for instance, a user follows a lot of in-house counsel, legal bloggers, and intellectual property lawyers, he’s likely to get more legal- or intellectual property-related tweets at the top of his timeline.

The same goes for someone who follows certain legal tech companies or law firms. The algorithm will search for a user’s preferences and then pull up related tweets that have been popular or highly retweeted. This new feature will enable legal marketers who consistently generate or share highly engaging content on behalf of their firm or practices to always be at the top of a user’s timeline that has a proven affinity to a specific type of content.

However, marketers need to beware! Law firms and legal marketers who try to trick the system by creating “spammy” or self-promotional content could experience a backlash with this new algorithm and cause users to unfollow them. While the new feature will not include promoted or “paid for” content at the moment, it is highly likely that in the next six months, Twitter will follow Facebook’s lead and allow advertisers to place promoted content at the top of a user’s timeline. If this happens, savvy law firms that for the most part have not been keen to participate in social advertising may change their mind and begin to experiment with this technique.

Social networks are constantly evolving, and new features and functionalities are being introduced at a dizzying pace. Legal marketers need to make sure that they remain aware of these changes and how they may affect their digital and social media strategies. Those that do will flourish, and those that don’t will be left behind.

What are your thoughts on the new features that Twitter has introduced? How will they impact your firm’s or company’s social media strategy? Please share your comments with us.