Justin Timberlake is promoting his new album. He has 24.5 million followers on Twitter, which provides a tremendous marketing opportunity.
He mentions the album on Twitter, and includes the link to the landing page (which lets you pre-order the album from Target):
People like it, and they begin retweeting it, effectively spreading the message to their respective audiences – which, if you were to look at their combined numbers, is also in the millions.
So far so good.
But, there’s a problem. His original post was 140 characters, which is the maximum size Twitter allows. Twitter would shorten the http://tmbr.lk/TakeBackTN link to “t.co”, and that would provide a few extra spaces, but still – it’s too long.
When his fans started retweeting the message, they added a few characters of their own (e.g. “RT “). Some went even further – they also included his name on the retweet (“@jtimberlake”) – which is 12 more characters, so now the message looks like this:
Note that not only one of his original hashtags is gone (#TNKids), but the previously shortened link to the album is now cut off as well! And that link is no longer valid:
As you can see from the attached report below, 4 out of 5 of his most retweeted messages now contain links that don’t work:
The worst part is, when a link is truncated like that, the marketing team behind the campaign wouldn’t even be aware of the problem – as the traffic wouldn’t be reflected in any standard analytics reports. Besides, while you can edit (delete and recreate) your own Tweet, you can’t do that for other people – once they start editing/retweeting – it’s their message now. And in this case, all these thousands and thousands of messages contain a broken link.
Your existing social media tracking tools are simply not enough. Once people start altering messages (by adding “RT”, “@…”, various remarks), most popular tools can no longer track them.
- keep your tweets short (e.g. 110..120 characters instead of 140 – to allow for insertion of short remarks, etc)
- keep significant information (meaningful tags, links) towards the front – which makes them less likely to be cut off
- use smart data discovery tools, like iTrend‘s