Short-form content has ruled social media for years. Examples include Tweets limited to 280 characters, advertisements as brief as two seconds, and short, viral videos. TikTok’s massive success in recent years has been partly responsible for this. But other factors like shorter attention spans and busier schedules have also played a role.
This brief form of content is usually memorable as it makes a significant impact in a small amount of time. Other benefits of short-form content include better engagement, increased traffic, and better SEO results.
On the other end of the spectrum, long-form content is precisely what it sounds like. Examples include blog posts, articles, emails, essays, etc. This form of content took the back seat once its shorter counterpart started ruling the digital world.
However, many feel that long-term content is more effective in engaging with readers while offering greater value and more in-depth information. Social media platforms are also gradually realizing the importance and relevance of long-form content. In fact, the ideal solution is to provide a mix of both types of content. And that’s the reason that long-form content is looking set to make a comeback!
In late June, Twitter announced it would be testing a new feature called Twitter Notes. The feature would allow users to write and share stories and other long-form content. This is one of the most significant changes to the platform since it doubled the character count per Tweet. Twitter Notes would offer users a way to share more substantial thoughts and ideas.
Numbered threads connecting a series of Tweets are common on Twitter, owing to the platform’s 280-word limit per Tweet. And these linked posts, known as tweetstorms, have been growing in popularity. The higher-ups at the Twitter HQ took note of this (pun intended!) in 2017. Ever since then, they have been developing a way for users to harness long-term content more effectively.
Many predicted that Twitter would launch such a feature when it acquired Dutch startup Revue back in January 2021. A newsletter platform that allowed users to publish and monetize content, Revue had significant customers like Vox Media. Newsletters were never going to be the right approach for Twitter. However, people predicted that this takeover could lead to a feature benefiting writers and publishers who have built a strong presence on the platform.
‘Noting’ the Details
Let’s take a closer look at the features of the new Twitter Notes. Its primary goal is to allow users to write long-form content directly onto the platform. Users can also include media features such as GIFs, videos, photos, and tweets with the text. In short, it allows users a full-featured blogging capability within Twitter.
Twitter profiles will have a Notes tab where others would be able to see all published content from that user. Like other word processing software, Notes also comes with a rich-text editor. This allows users to format text with familiar options such as bold and italicize. While the title of a Note cannot exceed 100 characters, the body has a generous word (not character) limit of 2500. Notes will also follow Twitter’s current rules of no violence or harassment in any content posted to the platform.
Another attractive feature of Notes is that each one will have its own unique URL. This means that even those who are not logged in to Twitter would be able to read it. In fact, readers would be able to enjoy the writer’s content even if they do not have a Twitter account. Thus, writers can easily share their Notes on different platforms.
With authors in mind, Notes would boast another feature not available for traditional tweets: editing ability after content is published. If a Note is edited, there will be a label at the top of the post to indicate this.
Hiding in Plain Sight
App researchers spotted the Twitter Notes feature before its official announcement. Jane Manchun Wong spotted the feature in the development stage when it was called “Twitter Article.” She pointed out the formatting tools bar, which resembled those found on blogging apps. She also noted the “Focus Mode,” which hides the Twitter sidebars and expands the Notes to a full-screen view. Researcher Nima Owji discovered that users could utilize this feature to save drafts and access them along with published content. He also noted that writers could check certain boxes to share these posts automatically.
Testing in Progress
Just a day after Tech Crunch published a lengthy post detailing the possible launch of longer-form content and researchers’ observations, Twitter confirmed the notes feature via its @TwitterWrite handle.
In the initial testing phase, only a small group of writers in Ghana, Canada, the UK, and the US have access to this feature. A brand-new team whose sole focus is building reader tools for Twitter Notes is powering this feature.
A day after Twitter confirmed its long-form content feature, Instagram also announced a new feature. The photo-sharing titan is testing its own text option, also called Notes. The difference is that Instagram’s feature will be “disappearing” rather than being designed for extended digital life.
The Instagram Notes feature will let users create quick announcements to Close Friends and followers. It would be like an electronic post-It note that will vanish in 24 hours. However, unlike Twitter, which is launching Notes as a long-form content option, Instagram’s feature is still based on short-form content, complete with a brief online presence.
Digital marketer Ahmed Ghanem first spotted the Instagram Notes feature. He posted screenshots of the app on Twitter, hinting that the feature would appear on the DM screen above messages. As per reports, Instagram Notes would be limited to 60 characters. Users will not receive a notification when they receive a Note. They would be able to view the messages for 24 hours on Instagram and reply with a DM.
The main benefit of this new Instagram feature is making important messages more visible and keeping them from getting lost. Instagram is currently testing the feature within a small group to evaluate its viability and popularity among users.
Applications in Web3
Web 3.0 — the upcoming iteration of the internet — is all about creating enhanced user experiences. It will also provide a significant opportunity for creators to grow their digital footprint, thus increasing their incomes. And this new form of content could potentially have important applications in this new era.
The introduction of long-form content could be especially beneficial for the crypto industry. Cryptos and NFTs are complex topics that warrant in-depth information. As such, long-form content may have a critical role to play here. Crypto and NFT brands can leverage it to educate their audiences about their products or explain certain features and technologies. They may even use it for new product launches, announcements, analyses, etc. Hence, many experts feel that Web 3.0 will usher in the return of lengthier postings.
Karishhma Mago, CEO of Digital Nod & renowned branding expert, calls these new features a modern alternative for writers and creators to make a living. “Writing is as much an art form as visual mediums,” she stated. “So, these wordsmiths should have the same opportunities to earn revenue while doing what they love. In the world of digital marketing, good writers are invaluable. It is a genuine pleasure to see them presented with monetization options for their personal work.”
However, as these writers and authors start monetizing their passions, they should also focus on building their brands. Writers today cannot underestimate the importance of the marketing and personal branding aspects. And Twitter verification is undoubtedly the first step in this journey.