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Rumours are circulating the net of Twitter’s planned revamp and eventual elimination of the platform’s most prominent symbols, the #tag and @reply.  With conjecture that testing is well underway, we take a look at what the change could spell for brands.

Testing and updates to the functionality of our favourite social networks come as no surprise. The purpose of most modifications are to improve the overall user experience – some are successful and see a wider roll-out, whilst others fall by the wayside.

By no means is Twitter new to experimenting, but we may well see some drastic changes coming in the pipeline. As a result of the “arcane” use of its famous form of communication, Vivian Schiller Head of News at Twitter, hints that the # and @ may one day disappear altogether… and this certainly does come as a surprise.

The change may be drastic but should we panic? At this point, no. Yes the symbols may disappear but the functionality of using ‘@’ to mention others, or ‘#’ for search should remain. Is this an effective way to streamline information and improve usability? For users, possibly. For brands, we’re not so sure.

See what our very own Katy Howell had to say in a recent article by The Drum:

“What isn’t clear right now is how the new symbol-free replies and removal of hashtags will impact brands. Companies are able to quickly find people talking to them using @replies that are not part of an ongoing conversation… And hashtags allow brands to find audience segments by interest. Take that away and Twitter might just get a lot harder for brands to be in.”

There’s a bone of contention of the real impact to brands, should Twitter dare to make this move. On one hand, simplifying the usability of Twitter may attract a wider audience. On the other hand, we may see the demise of the #tag phenomenon, so widely used in both online and offline advertising and marketing. Whatever will happen to that conspicuously placed hashtag at the bottom of your television screen?

© The Twitter Bird By Andreas Eldh

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