3 Impacts Twitter’s New Character Limit has on Commercial Real Estate

The History of Real Estate on Twitter

It’s an undeniable truth that Twitter is a powerhouse for businesses and consumers alike. It has grown quickly since someone sent the first tweet ever on March 21, 2006. Back then, many in the commercial real estate world did bother using Twitter for business. In fact, the first time anyone used #realestate (that Twitter allows us access to the public record of) was a year later!

Image of the first instance of #realestate

The first instance of the #realestate on Twitter: December 26, 2007.

The Commercial Real Estate sector lagged behind the Residential industry in Twitter adoption. Our favorite hasthag, #CRETech, saw the public eye for the first time in 2011 in the following tweet:

Image of the first instance of #CRETech being used on Twitter.

The first time #CRETech appeared on Twitter: May 18, 2011.

This is not uncommon in the Commercial Real Estate world. It is often the case that CRE will follow Residential in technology adoption due to a greater number of Residential transactions and smaller individual price points.

Twitter has never been a platform of constant flux. Social media websites like Facebook or Instagram or Snapchat all routinely push new features and innovations in order to keep their networks fresh, yet Twitter has not done so at the same pace. These “firsts” listed above were 140 characters or less; an arbitrary constraint intended to keep Tweets brief. Twitter just flipped that standard on its head by increasing the character limit to 280.

The Change

Twitter slowly granting its users (the non-Japanese, Chinese, and Korean primary speakers, that is) access to the 280 character limit. This is because they found that whereas 9% of all Tweets in English hit the character limit, only 0.4% of all Tweets in Japanese did.

Graph showing Japanese Tweets are less likely to hit the character limit compared to Tweets in English.

“We see that a small percent of Tweets sent in Japanese have 140 characters (only 0.4%). But in English, a much higher percentage of Tweets have 140 characters (9%). Most Japanese Tweets are 15 characters while most English Tweets are 34.” [blog.twitter.com]

This is because of the way that Japanese is able to compress more meaning into fewer characters. They find that there is greater adoption of their platform when the users do not have to cram ideas into tiny limits. Twitter is rolling this change out slowly, and the RDM Twitter account already has access to the increased limit. There has been a lot of social media backlash surrounding this change, but Twitter stands strong. It does not want to limit its English speakers to shorter thoughts than those of Japanese speakers, just because of language constraints.

The 3 Major Impact on Commercial Real Estate

  1. Advertising Viability:

    This is probably the first and biggest impact. Advertising on Twitter during Q4 of 2016 alone accounted for $641 million of their revenue. [source]  Though this is not a net profit, it is still a significant quantity of money. A huge percent of this money, some 86%, was from mobile alone. There is profit to be had, and this can only happen by growing their user base and on-platform advertisements. They discovered that larger character limits will reduce frustration and thus leads to more activity and users.

    Following the same logic, Real Estate companies, especially Commercial, can capitalize on this advertising opportunity. This, historically, however, has been minimal at best. The reason for this, we believe, is that there is such limited information in one Sponsored Tweet that it has not been widely viable (or at least, not more successful than other methods of tenant acquisitions). It makes more sense, though, that with twice as much character space, advertising a suite becomes viable. It no longer becomes wasting time and money on advertising one suite with incredibly limited room to describe its benefits; instead, there is some creative room to test it out and see how effective it can be. Perhaps the extra character room will prove to make Twitter a necessary asset for the marketing efforts of Commercial Real Estate companies.

  2. Conversation:

    In the same vein as above, a limited character set prevents a company from making meaningful connections between buildings and tenants. More characters provides anyone at a company the ability to draft Tweets and post them, since skill of succinct messaging is no longer required. This allows company executives the same ease of use that marketing managers have.

    Exposure to multiple levels of an organization helps keep a company connected to its clientele, no matter what the industry. Many will scoff at this idea in relation to commercial real estate: customers and prospective tenants aren’t engaging with owners, they may think. Although this currently true, increasing the character limit will help to increase Twitter’s user base. More users means that Twitter can become a viable platform for discussion between parties that normally do not usually engage.

  3. Reach:

    Furthermore, increasing how easy the Twitter platform is to get a thought across, reduces the frustration that some users experience while using it. This will create a greater Twitter-user base, and thus offer up a larger smorgasbord of prospective targets. A CRE company can get in front of these targets, embrace technology, and demonstrate their company culture of modernity. If the Commercial Real Estate community can grow on Twitter, there is a strong chance for growth opportunities across the board.

 

Conclusion

Twitter is a platform designed for brevity, but not everyone has the same skill at succinctness. Furthermore, not all industries benefit from getting a message across as quickly as possible, or in fewer words. Changing the word limit to 280 characters allows for a greater user base while maintaining the Twitter brand as a platform of short messages. More users means more prospective tenants or interest in a for-sale property. Though there has been a lot of backlash over this, users will come to appreciate the change.