Twitter has unveiled that it is testing a new 280-character limit on its platform, and has already rolled the functionality out to selected users. This might not seem like a big deal to those who aren’t glued to their Twitter feed, but in the digital world it’s pretty huge.
Some users are already up in arms, shouting that this move to 280 characters destroys what is arguably Twitter’s most recognisable differentiator, the restrictive 140-character limit. On the other hand, some users are excited about the possibility of longer-form content that is less restricted by character count, removing the inevitable exercise of finding another – normally less emotive – way to phrase what they really wanted to say.
So, let’s have a little look at both sides of the argument.
No hate for 280
It’s less restrictive
You’ve written the perfect tweet. You’ve kept it concise with just the right amount of personality, and you’ve thrown in a few relevant hashtags and emojis for good measure. There’s just one problem… the tweet is over 140 characters. We’ve all been there.
So you do the only thing you can. You trim the fat. Sadly, when it comes to content, the easiest words to remove without losing the actual message are the descriptions, emojis, and anything that gave your tweet its original character. With twice the space to craft your perfect tweet, this issue may become a thing of the past – and some users are ready to go all out.
Not everyone will use it anyway
There are users crying out that not everyone will even use all 280 characters, and this is very true. Tweets using less than 100 characters actually see the most engagement.
Even when the character limit was 140, the most effective tweets from brands used kept it short and sweet. This may well be the same for 280-character Twitter. Perhaps shorter tweets will make even more of an impact in the long-form landscape of the newsfeed – watch this space.
More room to be informative and hilarious
Seeing selected users really using their new-found space as a playground for informative and hilarious content is a joy.
Twitter users have already begun finding their feet with the new character limit, and it’ll be interesting to see how more brands begin to enter this space to tell their own brand stories in new ways.
Don’t rate 280
Removes the platform’s USP
The 140-character limit is arguably Twitter’s most obvious differentiator from other social platforms, and really plays to their idea of being the place to go for snappy, in-the-moment news and content. This character limit has forced users to be more concise with their thoughts, creating bite-sized content that can be quickly consumed as people swipe through their newsfeed on the move, between meetings, or to avoid awkwardness in social situations… Just me?
Anyway, this is the most obvious point in the in the fight against the 280-character limit, but it might have been time for a drastic change. With Facebook attempting to rule the world and bringing in 2 billion users a month compared to Twitter’s 328 million, it is no surprise that the platform is trying something new in an attempt to bring in new users and keep current users interested (and in some cases, enraged).
Doesn’t address users’ desires
This new feature, which no-one was really asking for, also suggests that the company isn’t listening to the desires of its loyal fanbase. Among these desires is an edit button, a very basic feature that still isn’t available, and stronger actions to be taken against accounts that aren’t following the rules of the platform (e.g. by tweeting inappropriate material or offending people).
It’s too early to know how the increased character count will affect Twitter’s fanbase, or its ability to bring in brands and agencies wanting to create and promote content on the platform, but it’s something that we’ll be keeping an eye on.
After all is said and done, I’ve already carried out some highly recognised research on my own personal Twitter account and the world has spoken. So far, Twitter’s controversial move to 280-character tweets is being met with a resounding “ew no”.