New Character Limit on Twitter –  What 280 Characters Means For You

Social media networks make updates and tweaks all the time. They’re continually rejigging their algorithms and, for most people, these changes aren’t hugely significant. But if you’re in charge of running SM channels for your organisation, even the smallest adjustment can have a considerable impact. Overnight you could find your company becoming almost invisible on social media, disappearing entirely from your target audience’s feed or timeline. So it’s important to keep up to date with what’s happening.

Usually these changes are small, but in Twitter’s case recently? They’ve gone big. Literally. They’ve doubled their character limit. For a service that’s whole USP is ‘microblogging’, that’s a pretty big step. Is this in response to customer demand? A smart piece of innovation? Or the desperate act of a failing company? Only time will tell…

You may have noticed that some users were given beta testing on the new limits back in September. A select few had 280 characters to work with, instead of the previous limit of 140. And, Twitter claim, the statistical data they’ve pulled from those tests, shows that users are much more engaged with these new, longer tweets.

That’s half the reason for this new character limit on Twitter. They want people to engage with content more. And apparently their research shows that many people were ‘cramming’ thoughts and ideas into the limited messages and not expressing themselves fully enough, causing frustration and obstructing communication. It’s also claimed to be a move to help those in countries where languages require more characters and longer sentences to communicate simple ideas.

So, how is this new character limit on Twitter good news for you?

You can go into more depth

You’re competing with 330 million other users, so it’s tough to get seen sometimes. That’s not necessarily going to change, but what the new character limit on Twitter does mean is that you can express yourself and explain things more. Now lets not get too excited – 280 characters still isn’t much so succinctness is always crucial, but you now don’t need to omit details or write 12 tweet rants that will most likely be ignored.

The ease on limit should see tweeting less as a brevity challenge and more as a useful communication tool

“During the first few days of the test, many people tweeted the full 280 limit because it was new and novel, but soon after behaviour normalised,” Twitter Product Manager Aliza Rosen wrote in a recent blog post on the news. “We saw when people needed to use more than 140 characters, they tweeted more easily and more often. But importantly, people tweeted below 140 most of the time and the brevity of Twitter remained.”

Get seen more

Early stats indicate that users are now spending more time on Twitter, which should mean that you have more interaction time with your audience. It’s important not to drone on and on, firing out endless 280 character tweets. You still have a responsibility to entertain and inform. Only now, you can do it in a little more depth.

Increased engagement

So long as your content remains focused and on point, you should see your engagement rise. Data from the test period shows that the number of replies and retweets increases with more extended form content. Which is kinda good news, isn’t it?

Save time

Double the content, double the time spent writing it, right? Well, no. Not really. Getting across sometimes involved and complex business ideas and concepts in just 140 characters can take a whole lot of composing and recomposing. Now, you can let the words flow. The new character limit on Twitter means you no longer need to worry about cutting your message down to its barest parts.

You can speak in detail to your audience

It’s not just about you composing longer tweets. The people you talk to on Twitter will also be writing longer messages. So your conversations can be more in-depth, and any customer feedback you receive in tweet form can be more detailed.

We think it’s a great move from Twitter. It frees you up to speak to your audience more. But don’t get tempted to try and hit 280 characters just for the sake of it. It’s still about short, sharp messages. Only now they needn’t be quite as short or sharp.

Free Resource


Inbound Marketing Review

Heard about Inbound Marketing but not sure how it can help your business?

Sign up for an Inbound Review and we’ll show you how you can boost your lead generation.