Twitter dives into long(er) form content with Notes, but will it catch on with content creators and journalists?
By Matt Collins Article may include affiliate links
Twitter has soft-launched a new feature that will allow users to post long-form content.
✨ Introducing: Notes ✨
We’re testing a way to write longer on Twitter. pic.twitter.com/SnrS4Q6toX
— Twitter Write (@TwitterWrite) June 22, 2022
The feature, called Notes, will be part of the company’s newly-renamed Twitter Write brand that includes both the Notes product and newsletters.
Initially, the Notes launch is being billed as private “test” with select users chosen to participate, who gain access to the ability to write article-length content that can include images and media and is contained all in a single, scrollable view.
Anyone can read Notes, but only select users can create them as of June 2022.
It’s become common for Twitter users from a variety of backgrounds, including journalists, to post what Twitter calls threads that are essentially multiple tweets chained together to tell a longer story while getting around the 280-character per tweet limit.
Often these tweets are numbered, such as 1/10 in cases where the author already divided up the content into, for example, 10 tweets. When threads are written on the fly, some users also number them as 1/n, 1/x or 1/, with “n,” “x” or blank standing in for the total number of tweets when the user isn’t sure how many posts it will take to complete their thoughts.
Threads, which are supported by Twitter officially and are displayed in a distinct manner, are also often labeled using the emoji 🧵.
Another common alternative is for users to write longer-form content in a notes app, take a screenshot of it and then attach that to a tweet.
This approach, however, has some disadvantages in that the words in the text shown in the image generally isn’t searchable, therefore potentially preventing it from appearing in search results or trends unless the user includes keywords from the image in the text of the tweet.
It also causes accessibility issues because images of text are not automatically readable by most screen readers or other adaptive technology unless an “alt tag” is provided — and putting the entire contents of a lengthy note in that tag is cumbersome.
Overall, previews and initial content posted using the Notes feature appear to largely echo the feel of services such as Medium, albeit in a mobile-first layout.
The design incorporates the ability, also featured in Medium, to feature a large image at the top that extends the width of the content area, similar to a profile banner image.
Tweets with links to Notes will have a preview of the content displayed in feeds and individual tweet layouts, which is clickable to read the full piece.
URLs to notes are prepended with “/i/notes” in the URL. Each one then get was is presumably a string of unique numbers, much like how tweet URLs are formed.
Notes are also editable, with a small “edited” tag appearing on content that has been edited, presumably to include updates or make corrections. It does not, however, give a reader access to the previous versions of the Note, a common feature that other social network platforms that offer editing capabilities use.
At least some Twitter users took to the platform to complain about the introduction of Notes, voicing their opinion that they’d rather have an edit button on standard tweets than this long-form writing tool, though it is perhaps noteworthy that the new feature does come with an edit button, possibly signaling that that feature could be coming to other parts of the platform.
It’s also not immediately clear how Twitter plans to monetize this feature, though it’s common for limited releases such as this to not include full advertising rollouts. On desktop, Notes do feature the standard Twitter sidebar that can include promoted trends and follow suggestions.
Of course, it’s also possible that Twitter could start showing promoted tweets within Notes content, perhaps even placing them in the middle of content. It’s also possible more traditional banner or text-based ads could be used, though this would represent a significant departure from Twitter’s advertising philosophy and also could prove to be less effective.
This also opens the door to the possibility of revenue sharing with authors, since, unlike ads shown in a Twitter feed, the content shown is solely written by one person (or account). Twitter hasn’t said if it plans to do anything like that.
It may have to, however, if it wants to get users, especially well-known influencers, content creators and journalists, to invest the time and energy in writing long-form content and make the Notes feature widely used. Some creators, however, may be willing to forgo any type of revenue sharing if they are able to leverage the ability to post longer-form content into increasing followers and engagement that, in turn, could lead to revenue from other sources.
Accounts belonging to publishers, broadcasters and content creators who have their own website where long-form content is traditionally posted may also need to see some type of revenue share if they’re going to post content in Notes as opposed to sending users to their own site, where those views can contribute to important metrics that, in turn, generate ad revenue.
Notes allows users to create multiple links to non-Twitter content within articles, so it’s also possible content creators and news properties could end up using the feature to provide a longer introduction to an article but then encourage the read to click through to their own site to read the rest, assuming Twitter doesn’t somehow prohibit or block doing that.