June 14, 2012
Twitter Goes Beyond 140 With Expanded Tweets
Enid Burns for redOrbit.com
It's more than just 140 characters. The microblog Twitter just broke out of its character limit to include expanded Tweets from partner websites. Hover over the truncated URL and content previews, images, videos and other features will expand so you know what you're going to see when you click through.
The expanded Tweets only work for Twitter partners, typically content publishers. Likely Twitter will expand to more and more publishers, and possibly open the feature to regular Twitter users in the future. Content partners include the New York Times, Breaking News, Time, The San Francisco Chronicle and Der Spiegel Online. Tweets from these sites have the ability to expand to show the headline and a blurb of the article being posted. A trial on posts from these Twitter accounts, however, didn't all expand to show excerpts.
Photo partners include WWE, BuzzFeed and TMZ. In these posts, a photo appears with a headline and blurb, in the expanded view. Video partners include BET, Lifetime and Dailymotion. In these Tweets a frame of the video, highlights and a brief description appears. An example for BET includes a video link to the channel's 106th & Park show, where the expanded entry shows a still of the video, plus smaller stills from segments in the show so users can skip to what part of the episode they want to see.
In the expanded view, users can click to read the article, follow the Twitter account of the publisher, reply, favorite or retweet the Tweet. Twitter already featured expanded Tweets, at least in some form, for videos from YouTube and Instagram photos.
"You've probably expanded Tweets before to play videos from YouTube or see photos from Instagram. Now, a diverse group of new partners like the Wall Street Journal, Breaking News, and Time also deliver rich content inside Tweets containing a link to those websites," said Twitter product team director, Michael Sippey, on the Twitter blog.
Twitter announced the expanded Tweets feature on its blog, much in the style of how Google rolls out new features. The expanded Tweet feature is available both to web-based Twitter users, and also users of the mobile platform, mobile.twitter.com.
The new feature rolls out to everyone on Twitter.com and mobile.twitter.com. For now, Twitter users on the iPhone and Android will have to wait to get expanded Tweets.
Tweets, including expanded Tweets, still have to be confined to 140 characters. It really doesn't change the Twitter timeline. It's when you click on a Tweet and then hover the mouse over the shortened URL that the expanded content unfolds.
It's Tweets from these Twitter partners that get the extra ability to expand to show additional content after the Tweet. This is a play from Twitter to make the microblog more interactive and engaging to users. It also keeps users on Twitter.com to consume content, rather than immediately clicking through to content sites to read an article or view a video.