If you’re not a huge Twitter fan, then you might not be aware that this week there’s been a major shakeup in the world of the Tweet. The strict 140 character limit has now been replaced by a new one – you now have 280 characters in which to share your thoughts.
Twitter announced their plans to increase this limit some time ago, and a select group of users have been trialling it for the last month or so. The logic being that people will now be able to express more of their thoughts, without running out of room. I admit, given what some people think about and deem worthy of sharing, I remain to be convinced whether this is a good thing.
Many have taken the news quite badly, suggesting the whole point of Twitter, and its great appeal, is the brevity with which points have to be made. Increasing the character limit will, they argue, make Tweets harder to read as there is more to get through. Not only that, but in our experience, if you give people the option to say more, they will – just because they can, not because it adds anything to the discussion.
Of course, one of the biggest complaints about the increase is that it detracts from some of the more fundamental problems with the platform. Twitter has long been associated with rampant abuse, harassment and bullying – hooray, now people can abuse people using more words!
The limited data that has been made available from the trial sessions indicate that, once the novelty had worn off, those with access to Tweet 280 characters, tended not to go much above the original limits. Equally, those who could Tweet slightly longer thoughts received more engagement, and spent longer on the network than other members.
It is worth noting, however, that it was a single figure percentage of overall users that were able to trial this option before today’s launch. So I guess time will tell on this one.
Twitter’s logic appears to be with the aim of making the platform easier for newcomers to use, and I definitely think it will help. In my experience, many businesses seem to avoid using Twitter in their social marketing mix for fear of the Tweet limitations. With the option to say slightly more, hopefully people will find a renewed interest in engaging.
Let’s watch this space.