We knew it was coming, and now it’s here.
After 10+ years of having to meticulously craft our tweets to fit into the confines of Twitter’s famed 140-character limit, we now have double the capacity to play with.
The 280-character limit has been on trial for a couple of months but Twitter has announced everyone now has the ability to write longer tweets (except people who use Twitter in Korean, Japanese or Chinese).
(THIS IS WHAT LONGER TWEETS LOOK LIKE IN THE FEED)
How to tap into the power of social reporting for your business. https://t.co/86XtvDoO6j …
We love the concept of social reporting here at @ZoeticAgency. This is where an organisation creates content in real-time, that tells their brand story in different and interesting ways. pic.twitter.com/GcGEipe4vd
— Trevor Young (@trevoryoung) November 8, 2017
But not everyone likes the idea of 280 characters.
Personally, I’m not a fan. Yes, the 140-character limit can sometimes prove challenging, but it just means you need to keep editing your tweet until you can make it fit. Forced brevity makes us all better communicators.
I know I’m not alone here. Perhaps it’s just us Twitter old timers who feel this way?
So how will this landmark Twitter decision play out?
Will extra tweeting capacity – 280 characters per tweet – be useful or problematic for PR and communications folks whose job it is to use social media to communicate with people?
First up, the concerns:
- People who spout crap can now do so in 280 characters – not good.
- Businesses that use Twitter to pitch their products and services can now say more about their products and services – ugh!
- Donald Trump’s megaphone just doubled in size – aargh!
Will 280 character tweets just mean more noise? Potentially, although Twitter’s research suggests that won’t be the case:
Historically, 9% of Tweets in English hit the character limit. This reflects the challenge of fitting a thought into a Tweet, often resulting in lots of time spent editing and even at times abandoning Tweets before sending. With the expanded character count, this problem was massively reduced – that number dropped to only 1% of Tweets running up against the limit. Since we saw Tweets hit the character limit less often, we believe people spent less time editing their Tweets in the composer. This shows that more space makes it easier for people to fit thoughts in a Tweet, so they could say what they want to say, and send Tweets faster than before. You can see this happening in the graph below.
On the plus side …
We can now be (slightly) more expansive in telling micro-stories on Twitter. This has always been a bit of a challenge, although we got around it by uploading images, Twitter cards and videos.
And we can spend less time trying to edit tweets down to 140 characters, so that’s a bonus I suppose.
Twitter also believes the additional length of tweets will result in greater engagement:
… people who had more room to tweet received more engagement (Likes, Retweets, @mentions), got more followers, and spent more time on Twitter. People in the experiment told us that a higher character limit made them feel more satisfied with how they expressed themselves on Twitter, their ability to find good content, and Twitter overall.
Greater engagement is a good thing, especially as Twitter has become a lot more one-way broadcast in recent times.
It’s a bit of a wait and see.
Just because we can use 280 characters doesn’t mean we will. It might not have that much of an impact at all.
If we spend less time crafting tweets to fit 140 characters and more time putting out useful and interesting content, that’s a positive thing.
But as always, the answer is to publish good content.
Put out interesting tweets up to 280 characters and we’ll be okay with it.
However, put out 280 characters’ worth of crap and promotional noise and things won’t play out well for Twitter. And this is what concerns me, because many, many businesses and organisations already don’t respect people’s time or attention.
Will this change with the lengthening of tweets? I fear not …
Personally, I think futurist Ross Dawson nails it here:
Ah given this vast new bounteous space I shall wallow and luxuriate in verbiage, occasionally wandering off on unrelated and unnecessary tangents, but eventually coming back to fully use this plentiful expanse of characters to express myself richly and completely. Still reading?
— Ross Dawson (@rossdawson) November 8, 2017
What say you? Are you a fan of 280 character tweets?