Twitter head of news, Vivian Schiller, gave customer service and marketing managers something to think about recently when she hinted that the social network might be eliminating some of its core features, namely @-replies and hashtags.

Right now, the @ symbol easily connects a tweet with an individual or brand’s Twitter account, and without it, an individual or brand would not get an email notification when they are tweeted at or mentioned in a tweet.

While this potential change would create a challenge for many brands that don’t currently use a social listening and response tool, it’s the bigger idea of the removal of these symbols, and perhaps other Twitter eccentricities, that should have the foreshadowing theme from Jaws playing in the heads of customer service and marketing managers.

You’re Going to Need a Bigger Boat…

If the symbols and codes that have previously made learning Twitter like learning a foreign language for some are removed, brands should expect that a wave of new questions, complaints and feedback from a rising ocean of social customers may begin flooding the cabin.

Consider this; while Twitter had 241 million active users worldwide in Q4 2013, up to 1 billion people have tried Twitter and then stopped using it, according to a company that tracks Twitter statistics, much of them because of the usage learning curve. One billion.

Comments made by Twitter CEO Dick Costolo during the company’s most recent earnings call in February speak to the company’s focus on making the social network more engaging for the masses:

“By bringing the content of Twitter forward and pushing the scaffolding of the language of Twitter to the background,” said Costolo, “we can increase high-quality interactions and make it more likely that new or casual users will find this service as indispensable as our existing core users do.”

So what does this mean for brands? If you don’t already have a social monitoring and response tool to manage customer questions and complaints, time to start thinking about getting one. Especially if your brand is slinging a one-way, sales-heavy stream of Twitter content, it may be only a matter of time before the sharks begin circling the boat. Do you have the means and crew to respond?