Last month the reactive social media platform Twitter rolled out tests to double its character limit from 140 characters to 280 characters. After one month of testing on a select few, Twitter are soon ready to roll out this mass overhaul to all of its 330,000,000 users. So why has Twitter decided to do this?
In recent years the general number of tweets being posted have decreased however impressions are still as healthy as ever. There is nowhere more evident of this than when comparing the Tweet activity of Superbowl 2015 with Superbowl 2016. According to a March 2016 article on The Drum, Superbowl 2015 saw 36m tweets sent compared to Superbowl 2016 which saw 27m. However, Superbowl 2015 saw 2.5 billion impressions whereas Superbowl 2016 saw 4.3 billion - a 72% increase in people seeing tweets.
Therefore, Twitter is no longer about what is being posted but what is being read. Perhaps encouraging people to post more often is the reason for Twitter’s multiple attempts to alter their character limit over the past few years.
In September 2016, Engadget talked about Twitter's decision to remove the character limit reduction that occurred automatically when including images, videos and gif’s. The cost of including content was 23 less characters for the post copy thus sacrificing valuable descriptive text opportunities. Brands couldn’t waste a single character when getting their messaging across to their audiences and the content attached, as well as being eye catching, also had to have an easily digestible message
Due to limited opportunity to express information with words, creative ways of delivering messages and evoking emotion flourished. This was not just a necessity for posting content, but also for community management. Gif’s have been a hugely popular form of expression by brands through community management, creating a fun and humanised approach to corporate issues such as customer service to help increase brand loyalty.
Then in March earlier this year, Wired UK reported on another decision by Twitter to exclude handles in the 140 character limit meaning users had more characters to express their thoughts and opinions.
It seems Twitter have exhausted all options to allow their users to say more on their platform with the decision being to finally increase the iconic 140-character limit.
Pros and Cons
1. Quite simply, you can say more! It will be easier for both brands and people to publish more information with more characters.
2. This in turn could lead to the decrease of chain tweets. Key information can be found in one place instead of sifting through multiple replies on a tweet chain.
3. It will give brands and marketers the flexibility to engage more with their audiences and give brands a broader opportunity to exchange information with their customers.
1. Wasn’t the whole point of Twitter to publish information in a clear, concise and digestible form? What’s the point in using ten words when one word will do the job?
2. People won’t have to be as creative with their tweets as there is a greater opportunity to say exactly what you need to. Twitter has always been more of a text based platform but could this signal the decrease of content production on the platform?
3. Is doubling the amount of characters swinging the pendulum too far in the opposite direction and allowing people/brands to say too much?
This is a brave step from Twitter, this action could be seen as re-writing the current functionality of the platform as it currently exists. The future of content on the channel will be interesting to witness as, according to a March 2017 study by Cisco, 75% of mobile traffic will be video by 2020.
So it seems as always, only time will tell!