Strug­gling so­cial me­dia com­pa­nies try out new looks

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - FRONT PAGE -

Strug­gling so­cial-me­dia dar­lings Twit­ter and Snapchat are tak­ing on new looks as the ser­vices seek wider au­di­ences in the shadow of Face­book.

Twit­ter is rolling out a 280-char­ac­ter limit for nearly all its users, aban­don­ing its iconic 140-char­ac­ter limit for tweets. And Snapchat, long pop­u­lar with young peo­ple, will un­dergo a re­vamp in hopes of be­com­ing eas­ier to use for ev­ery­one else.

Both ser­vices an­nounced the moves Tues­day as they look for ways to ex­pand be­yond their pas­sion­ate but slow-grow­ing fan bases.

Twit­ter has said that 9 per­cent of tweets writ­ten in English hit the 140-char­ac­ter limit. Peo­ple ended up spend­ing more time edit­ing tweets or didn’t send them out at all. By re­mov­ing that hur­dle, Twit­ter is hop­ing peo­ple will tweet more, draw­ing more users in.

Ger­man bu­reau­crats — no­to­ri­ous for their abil­ity to cre­ate lengthy tongue twisters con­sist­ing of one sin­gle word — cel­e­brated Wed­nes­day.

Ger­many’s jus­tice min­istry wrote that it can now tweet about leg­is­la­tion con­cern­ing the trans­fer of over­sight re­spon­si­bil­i­ties for beef la­bel­ing.

The law is known in Ger­man as the Rind­fleis­chetiket­tierung­sue­berwachungsauf­gabe­nue­ber­tra­gungs­ge­setz.

Mu­nich po­lice, mean­while, said that “at last” they won’t need ab­bre­vi­a­tions to tweet about ac­ci­dents in­volv­ing fork­lift driv­ers, or Nieder­flur­fo­erder­fahrzeug­fuehrer.

In Rome, stu­dent Ma­rina Verdic­chio said the change “will give us the pos­si­bil­ity to ex­press our­selves in a to­tally dif­fer­ent way and to avoid can­cel­ing im­por­tant words when we use Twit­ter.”

Oth­ers were not im­pressed, in­clud­ing at least one who quoted Shake­speare: “Brevity is the soul of wit.”

And, as Snap Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel noted, change does not come with­out risk.

“We don’t yet know how the be­hav­ior of our com­mu­nity will change when they be­gin to use our up­dated ap­pli­ca­tion,” he said. “We’re will­ing to take that risk for what we be­lieve are sub­stan­tial long-term ben­e­fits to our busi­ness.”

Snap, Snapchat’s par­ent com­pany, did not pro­vide de­tails on the up­com­ing changes.

Dur­ing the third quar­ter, Twit­ter av­er­aged 330 mil­lion monthly users, up just 1 per­cent from the pre­vi­ous quar­ter. Snapchat added 4.5 mil­lion daily users in the quar­ter to 178 mil­lion, which amounts to a 3 per­cent growth. The com­pany does not re­port monthly user fig­ures.

Those num­bers pale next to so­cial me­dia be­he­moth Face­book, which re­ported that its monthly users rose 16 per­cent to 2.07 bil­lion.

This file photo shows a Snap Inc. ban­ner cov­er­ing the fa­cade of the New York Stock Ex­change in New York.

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