Substack’s Twitter-like feature for shorter posts, called Notes, is launching for everyone on Tuesday. Notes could prove to be a worthy Twitter alternative for some, especially for Substack writers who have already built audiences on the platform and are looking for a new place to post after Twitter throttled Substack links and marked them as unsafe.
Substack’s Notes will appear in their own separate tab, meaning they’ll be separate from the full newsletters you can read in the Inbox tab or the threads you can read in the Chat tab, where you can read newsletters. In a blog post, Substack suggests using Notes to share things like “posts, quotes, comments, images, and links,” and there is no character limit, Substack spokesperson Helen Tobin tells The Verge.
Each post can include up to six photos or GIFs, but video isn’t supported. Notes you share won’t go to subscriber inboxes; they’ll just live on the Substack website and app. And you can interact with other Notes with like, reply, and “restack” (retweet) buttons.
Within the Notes tab, you can look through two different feeds: “Home” and “Subscribed.” “Home” shows notes from writers you subscribe to and “writers they recommend,” meaning you’ll see notes from people you may not already be familiar with. “Subscribed” only shows notes from people you subscribe to.
Before now, Notes has been in testing with “a small group of writers in recent weeks,” Substack says, and the company expects the feature will “have bumps, bugs, and imperfections, and for it to evolve it rapidly in response to feedback.” But the company is positioning it as a tool for Substack writers to more easily get subscribers. Instead of posting your Substack on Twitter and hoping that people take the steps to subscribe, Substack believes that Notes will reach audiences who are “already invested in the Substack ecosystem and are just one click away from a subscription.”
I’ve been able to use Notes very briefly, and it does indeed feel a lot like Twitter. One nice thing is that you can see a writer’s publication under their name and even subscribe right from the Note, which definitely reduces the friction to actually sign up for someone’s newsletter.
Some big Substack creators have said they’d be moving to Notes, so Substack could see some traction if it becomes the only place you can read certain writers. That said, Twitter has already largely walked back its restrictions on Substack, so it’s possible some writers may choose to stay on Twitter even after last week’s shenanigans.