It’s been two weeks since Twitter doubled the character limit from 140 to 280 characters. November 7th featured an odd mix of people excited not to be constrained to 140 characters and the other in an uproar of all these changes and no addition of an edit button. If you love Twitter odds are another 140 characters isn’t going to change your perspective.
Change is always added with complaints but over time it will feel normal. The first day lead to a farce on what an extra 140 characters looks like. It did annoy me at first because I’m pretty sure that wasn’t Twitter’s intention. Then again I didn’t even read through the tweets that used 280 characters as a full on paragraph with no breaks. What made Twitter unique was trying to be creative within that small window. Even though 280 characters could be a creative window is used the right way such as @NASAGoddard:
As a constant (daily) Twitter user, I doubt I can see myself constantly posting tweets of that length. I rarely use that many characters on Facebook and Instagram (minus the hashtags). This increase does help with those tweets that were slightly over 140 characters, they can now go in seamlessly. No more needing to take a word or two out and hoping it makes sense, or even using & instead of writing out “and” just to save 2 characters. Ideally, tweets should live within a 140–160 range because it’s what everyone is accustomed to, especially in texts. Well except when mom spreads out on simple text in to multiple ones.
Some resumes ask for applicants to describe themselves in 150 characters. That’s exactly how I think of Twitter, a couple of short sentences, not a long paragraph that gets lost after sentence 2 or 3. I usually join in on Twitter chats that talk about social media, marketing, ads, writing and other topics. The main consensus based on some of these conversations is that these chats are the perfect place to go over 140 characters. Most Twitter chats are about interacting and learning. There were times that 140 characters felt limiting and I personally hate needing to use two tweets to convey my point. Even though there were times I went around the 200 mark I separated them out so it looked easier to read than one long run on paragraph. For example imagine if this entire piece was one paragraph without any breaks to fully take in what I’m trying to say.
As a social media coordinator (consultant) this addition makes my life easier than it did last year. Links still count for 23 characters, but photos used to take up 22 characters. Meaning if a client wanted to include both that left me 96 characters to tell a message or story as concise as possible. Thankfully Twitter took away the 22 characters from photo, gifs and videos, increasing the amount to 117. Even though this was an added relief, tweets still went over 140 characters and I’d have to find a way to cut words without losing the initial message.
Social media is an essential tool for companies to interact with their followers but also allows publications to get their stories read. At the end of the day, it depends on the goal that is set and how much time and resources there is to get that message across. It’s easy to tell which brands have the extra resources, the inclusion of videos and podcasts adds an extra element to their feed and not just focusing on pushing links to followers. The addition of gifs, polls and media amplifies the way any of us to get our message across. Many companies won’t utilize these features because there needs to be a high ROI for any added social media usage. This is understandable but leads to a Twitter profile that is mostly links and no substance.
Tools such as Buffer, Hootsuite and Sprout Social don’t just help social media managers schedule out content but they also publish insights about social media and best practices. My concern is what Twitter will become especially with those pages that felt the need to use every character even though research (it was one of those 3 brands) showed that an ideal tweet length range from 80–100 characters. Will these accounts end up using all 280 characters like they did with 140? Creating more noise but no context to what is being said. Will it turn into Instagram 2.0? The extra space will have an abundance of hashtags. I sure hope not because at least the hashtags can be hidden on Instagram and odds are readers are going to skip through that tweet.
This addition could be fun if it’s used in the right way. On Twitter chats, there won’t be a need to send out 4 tweets to finish a thought. It should still look easy to read and straight to the point. Twitter is still a visual platform and those tweets tend to receive higher engagement. There’s a reason why diversifying your tweets with gifs, photos, videos, polls garner more engagement, they help enhance the words that’s being said. A tweet is worth 280 characters….if you don’t ramble on and lose your readers interest.
Readers will read a longer tweet if it grabs their attention, if you don’t you’ll end up like this article.
Original article published here