How to use Twitter’s new 4,000-character tweets
· 5 min read
Take a very deep breath. Maybe even take a seat. Do you need water? Here, here’s some water.
I want to tell you: you’re gonna come across Tweets with 4,000-characters now. It’s gonna be okay. Great, even.
I know it’s sudden. Let’s talk about it.
Okay, 4,000-character tweets. What does that mean exactly?
It’s just like it sounds. Remember when Twitter went from 140 characters to 280 characters? It’s like that, just 14x bigger (and you gotta pay for more characters this time). Here, lemme give you a visual example:
I know you’re panicked still, so I wanted to show you the in-feed view first. See how it’s truncated? You get a 280-character preview, with a “Show more” option to expand. Besides that? They’re really just longer tweets.
The one catch: Only Twitter Blue subscribers can publish 4,000-character tweets. Anyone on Twitter can read them, but you gotta pay for Elon’s subscription to write ’em. Which, if you’re a brand, you should be paying for Twitter Blue anyway.
Alright, I think you’re ready to see a full long-form tweet. Here’s that Twitter Blue announcement, expanded:
See? That wasn’t so bad, was it?
Should your brand use 4,000-character tweets?
Sure!...Maybe? Well, yes, with an asterisk and an “if.”
When a social platform launches a new content type, it’s generally wise to give it a try pretty quickly. You wanna understand all the tools in your toolbox, get a feel for their use. I’ve always suspected that new content formats get more engagement since they’re visually unexpected and new to the feed.
That said, do you need to use 4,000 character tweets? Absolutely not. This isn’t like Instagram’s emphasis on Reels, where you essentially couldn’t succeed on the platform unless you started using their new format. This is just another way to tweet.
If you or your brand have great ideas that are best told in 4,000 characters? Go for it.
You’re gonna need some new best practices for the format (I’ll get into some theories below), but it’s a format I’m testing for my own content.
What actually matters, with any content format, is if you’ve got a great creative idea + a great hook for said idea. That’s as true of 4,000-character tweets as any other content format.
What about Twitter threads? Do long-form tweets replace threads?
TBD. Threads were born because a single tweet wasn’t enough for nuance—to share any sort of detail, we had to link multiple tweets together as a platform hack. Long-form tweets are definitely meant as a platform answer to users’ need for detail. If you regularly write threads, you should try out 4k-character tweets, see what performs and works best for you. I do think in the long run, long-form tweets will phase out threads.
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I tried it this week and was surprised it became my most-engaged tweet of the last six months. Was that because of the very personal subject matter? Would it have performed just as well as a thread? Who knows, but 257,000 views with a thousand likes have me intrigued.
That said, the current format isn’t terribly readable—the natural spacing/font of Twitter doesn’t really work for the eyeballs when you’re reading 500 words. Twitter threads may mean multiple tweets, but the spacing + 280-character containers act as great capsules for broken-down thoughts. I’d argue threads are actually more readable than the current long-form tweets.
4,000-character tweet best practices
Let’s pull up Twitter’s announcement tweet again. It perfectly displays what I suspect will be the most important best practice: a 280-character hook.
You see how the tweet’s framed as an introduction? That’s gonna be the move. A strong, compelling hook that explains why readers should tap that “Show more” for additional reading.
Note that very blatant language signaling, “Tap this,” with the emoji. Long-form tweets are a new feature that’ll take time for users to understand—by plainly asking readers to click on the expander, you ensure they understand the format. You’ll wanna give that direction until the format becomes more popular on Twitter.
It’s also probably worth considering tossing a few hashtags at the very bottom of the long-form tweet, the way many people do on LinkedIn. While the value of hashtags is less clear than ever, it won’t hurt, and it won’t look ugly since they’re at the end of a piece a reader has already elected to read.
Potential brand ideas for 4,000-character tweet best practices
If your brand writes long-form written content of any kind, it’s worth considering if it’s better served in a long-form tweet than a linked-out URL tossed within a short tweet. I got my start in video game marketing, so patch notes immediately came to mind. Some areas you might consider migrating to long-form tweets include:
- Pretty much any time you linked out to a company blog
- Guest blogs
- Heartfelt stories—not everything has to be video
- Case studies or testimonials
- Timelines and lists
- Oral histories
Or, you can just tweet the lyrics to All Too Well (Taylor’s Version).