Twitter is famous for its 140-character limit for its tweets. And whether you think that’s a good thing for preventing rambling posts or a bad thing for limiting the nuance and context that can be included, it’s become a defining feature of the site.
But that defining feature is becoming a feature of the past. Twitter still places an emphasis on brevity, but the old 140-character restriction is falling by the wayside.
Twitter has been testing allowing 280-character tweets, but yesterday began rolling the feature out for all users – once the rollout is complete, only those tweeting in Chinese, Japanese, or Korean (languages that use fewer characters overall) will be stuck to the old 140-character limit. People tweeting in all other languages will be able to use 280 characters to express themselves on Twitter.
When Twitter was in its early years, many users used texts to receive tweets. The 140-character limit was imposed to allow each tweet to fit into a single text message. People using Twitter still found ways to cram more into tweets, though, whether that’s including a screenshot of a large block of text or creating multi-part tweets. And now, most people access Twitter though the app, not via text.
Twitter has recently been easing restrictions to allow people to put more into a tweet. In September 2016, they stopped letting features like polls, photos, and videos count against the character limit. This is an attempt to reengage their audience and get users to tweet more – by reducing the frustration and annoyance of having to edit your thoughts down to 140 characters, Twitter hopes you will be tempted to tweet more.
Is this a good idea?
Some will say yes, some will say no. Long-time Twitter users will find the change strange and may have a hard time getting used to it. I predict most users, though, will appreciate that they have to do less editing of their tweets to fit the character requirement.
Personally, I like the idea – the 280-character limit means that you still won’t get long, rambling posts like you can on other social networks, but it allows for more nuance, detail, and context, all of which I think are important for both posting and engaging with other people. It definitely will take some getting used to, but I think it will make for more human-sounding tweets – and maybe fewer (or at least shorter) Twitter arguments.
What does this mean for marketing?
The main benefit to those marketing on Twitter is the added ability to add detail, context, and human-ness to your tweets. 140 characters doesn’t give you a lot of room to include friendliness and necessary detail in your responses to customers – the new 280-character limit will let you sound more open and human, and it will let you more fully address their concerns without asking them to call or email you.
And if you’re one of the many who already has access to this feature, take advantage of it! Your longer tweets will stand out while people are still getting used to them.