The rain and floods have been all over the news since December.

But the beginning of January saw a storm of a different kind…

It’s known as a Twitter storm.

And it’s what happens when the users on Twitter are whipped up into a furious frenzy of righteous outrage, accusations and incriminations.

That’s nothing to do with you, right?

Just the usual social media addicted getting stirred up over nothing….?

Well, this one is a storm you should take notice of.

But not for the reasons the ranting hoards will tell you.

In my view, this has hugely positive implications for your business.

It could allow you to find new customers, connect with them and sell directly to them in a way that’s never been easier.

And it could help end your reliance on getting up the Google rankings or worrying so much about website traffic.

So here’s what’s been going on…

How 10,000 words sparked a deluge of complaints

If you’re not on Twitter, or never used it, this is the deal…

It’s a rolling newsfeed of micro-blogs limited to 140 characters.

The idea is that by keeping it short, the feed moves fast like a message board of concise messages, thoughts and comments.

But barely had the New Year’s champagne bottles been chucked in the recycling bin when Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey came out with a shocker…

Twitter is planning to increase the character limit to 10,000 characters.

CUE: Thunder and lightning! Big piano chords!

As the network went ballistic with the expected outrage from the usual “rent-a-rant” mob who hate anything new or that smacks of business I smiled.

This is actually good news, if you think about it properly.

Dorsey was keen to point out that the feed will look the same.

You’ll still get the short 140 character Tweets on the timeline… some of which contain photos, videos or links to longer stories on other sites.

But with a click or a tap, you will be able to reveal up to 10,000 characters of text.

CUE: Chorus of Angels with golden trumpets!

While Twitter users shout and scream, they ignore the fact that most people on Twitter are already linking their 140 character tweets to longer pieces – blog posts, articles, PDFs.

Quite often, you’ll see the top of the article and some of the text quoted beneath the tweet…. so this revolution is already happening anyway.

And I know exactly why Twitter are planning this.

Twitter is a company.

Even its outraged lefty activist users know this.

And the truth is, the company is losing money.

It needs to boost growth and prove its profitability to shareholders and the marketplace.

Longer copy (sorry I mean text ) is the answer

Written text can be searched, in the same way as blogs can be search.

Not only by internet users, and Google, but by businesses, marketers and Twitter itself.

They can therefore target the right people with the right ads.

But there’s another reason….

What does a 10,000 word tweet sound like to you?

Sounds very much like a blog post, doesn’t it?

Except it’s a blog post that is hosted on Twitter, rather than an external website.

And this is going to be key for what you want to do with your business.

There’s a massive land-grab happening right now…

All the social media networks want to become THE platform where you read news, share information and connect with friends.

They want a bigger slice of your attention and time.

What Twitter is doing by lengthening its posts is wresting some control of online space back from its rivals.

Instead of pushing users to other blogs and news sites on the web, Twitter’s “read more” button will keep you in its clutches, holding you for longer, giving it more power for advertisers.

This will help it fightback against rival networks like Facebook, Snapchat and Tumblr, which are also attempting to keep hold of their users, rather than sending them elsewhere.

This trend is part of the greater phenomenon I wrote about in the November issue of Digital Upstart.

I believe that all online content is gradually moving onto the social networks. Instead of random blogs, company websites, shops and social media scattered loosely around the internet…. they’re all fusing into one.

eCommerce sites and blogs are becoming more social…

…while social media is becoming more eCommercial.

That might be a bit confusing. So let me illustrate….

Here’s a current scenario:

You’re on Twitter and you read a tweet that interests you.

It has a link, so you click through to a longer post on someone’s blog.

In that post is a link to a product (a book or magazine, for instance). So you click on that and end up on the publisher’s website.

Now let’s say you want to buy that product.

You’re then sent to a separate eCommerce page with a shopping cart.

When you fill in the details, you then go to something like PayPal, where you can finalise your order.

That’s a lot of clicking and jumping around.

  • It’s hard for customers, because it’s a lot of effort and hassle
  • It’s hard for businesses because they lose a load of potential customers during this process. (People give up, websites are too slow, they have time to reconsider)
  • It’s hard for Twitter, because it was the first point of contact in the sale but gets NONE of the money.

But in the future, it will be far simpler…

We will read news, watch videos, get recommendations, share messages and buy products – all on perhaps one or two platforms.

You might be on Twitter and see something that interests you.

Without leaving the network you’ll read all the information about it, then go directly to the company site or even purchase the product right there and then.

Here’s why this is important …

The next revolution is happening – and you need to be part of it now, or you’ll lose out.

Think about the revolution that came with the advent of search engines and Google.

Everyone was soon racing to work out how to get noticed by those engines. This was how the SEO keyword mayhem began with everything trying to crack the code and rank higher than their rivals.

Well, that time is over now.

Forget about keyword stuffing and Google ranking.

Social media is the arena for next big race for attention.

It’s on these networks where everyone’s going to be looking for information, sharing recommendations and buying products.

That’s where businesses need to be.

Now I’ll admit, I don’t know which of the social media platforms will win out. Nobody does.

Right now they’re all competing, stealing, converging with each other.

There may be a big bloody battle in which there are only a few victors that swallow up the others.

However, sitting around doing nothing is not an option.

Until now, social media’s been a very indirect way of building awareness of your personality, your interests, your business website and products.

But soon it could be the primary place where you exist as a business – finding customers, connecting with them, and selling directly to them.

In the next year two, you might find that social media becomes a far more powerful and direct selling weapon than ever before, maybe as much as blogs and emails have been in the past.

In which case, you need to start gathering your loyal followers, contacts and potential customers NOW.

It takes a while to build up a relationship.

Even if your favoured social network gets swallowed up, or loses steam, you can push followers from one network to another.

Whatever stage of business you’re at, you should be on at least two or three networks, sharing useful content and tips, having a voice and keeping up with what’s happening.

I’d recommend Twitter as a basic, plus Instagram if you have a visual element, or LinkedIn if you’re an expert or in business-to-business.

Tumblr is good if you have a young audience, and Pinterest if you have a largely female audience and a visual product.

Google+ is not a big network on its own, but being on there will make your more visible on Google and it won’t cost you much more effort.

And this is so important, I’m going to prepare a more detailed report for a forthcoming issue.