The Twitter 280 character limit is coming to a Twitter app near you. In fact, check your phone right now as you may already have it. Twitter rolled it out to an experimental number of users previously, but they’re saying this is now coming to everyone as of today. They released some statistics on it, and I have a few thoughts to add on what Twitter marketers should do.
Twitter 280 character limit expansion
Twitter announced the change in a blog post, as well as a tweet:
We're expanding the character limit! We want it to be easier and faster for everyone to express themselves.
More characters. More expression. More of what's happening.https://t.co/wBpYdy1K40
— Twitter (@Twitter) November 7, 2017
The 280 character tweet limit will be available to everyone, except those who speak Japanese, Chinese languages, and Korean. That is because single characters in these languages can represent entire words, so they are already able to expressed very much in just 140 characters.
Why the 280 character limit exists
The general consensus from the public has been mixed on the 280 character limit. It’s the usual clash between traditionalists, and those who are kind of lazy. You know, the type of people who will never be editors…
Twitter has had much to say about how the 280 character limit has increased engagement. Here is the first piece of information that they released to support this:
The other important deciding factor in rolling out 280 characters to all Twitter users is that it will help alleviate the problem of people running up against the limit length. Here is what they had to say about it:
“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.”
Twitter believes that having more characters makes it easier to say what you truly want to say, leading to better communication between people. Not only that, but if people feel that they’re better able to express themselves they will be more likely to tweet regularly.
Twitter is having some serious problems with growing their user base fast enough. They’re so close to making a profit, and they’re hoping that more people tweeting more often will bring more users and increase engagement.
Twitter user concerns over 280 characters
Many Twitter users are very concerned about how their timelines are going to look with 280 character tweets taking up a lot of space. The main selling point on Twitter is the fact that messages on it are short. People are already expressing concern:
I will NEVER use 280 characters nor will I favorite or retweet a tweet with them. THIS IS MY FIGHT SONG
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) November 8, 2017
Just because you can doesn't mean you should #280
— Fred Wilson (@fredwilson) November 8, 2017
Anyway, soon we’ll be all complaining “I can’t finish a thought in 280 characters!” and we’ll be whining for 560. pic.twitter.com/cvfGXeK4pr
— Julia Ryder / 冉晶娜 (@Julia_Ryder_) November 8, 2017
I think you get the idea, and all good online arguments end with Kermit anyway. Twitter themselves addressed the issue with this information:
“We – and many of you – were concerned that timelines may fill up with 280 character Tweets, and people with the new limit would always use up the whole space. But that didn’t happen. Only 5% of Tweets sent were longer than 140 characters and only 2% were over 190 characters.”
As you can gather from Twitter’s official statements, they’re a little bit defensive over the whole thing. They know that it is a very bold and controversial decision, but their desire to see their platform grow even more has outweighed this concern.
What marketers should consider with the Twitter 280 character limit
Twitter marketers need to start running tests with their audience to see how they react:
- Start recording how they engage with tweets which reach the 280 characterlimit, and those which are well under.
- I would suggest that you not look at historical data, and instead record this reaction in the current Twitter atmosphere. You need to see how they react to this new environment.
- Don’t forget to experiment with links, images, hashtag numbers, videos, and anything else you can add to the new mix.
Record all of this in a spreadsheet so that you can start figuring out what it is your audience actually reacts to. Twitter is going to be fundamentally the same, but this new development will surely alter your Twitter marketing campaigns.