If you felt limited by Twitter’s 140 character count, you won’t anymore. The limiting 140-character tweet is now history as Twitter raises character limit to 280. After conducting a global test, Twitter has announced that 280 character tweets will roll out to all users. These new longer tweets will be the standard in every language where Twitter is available except for Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Those languages will still see the 140-character limit as the company says the average length of a tweet in Japanese is a mere 15 characters.
Double The Space
Two months ago it was just an experiment. The 140-character limit has been around since the company was created in 2006. The 140-character limit was originally established to reflect the length of SMS messages, which was how tweets were distributed prior to the development of mobile apps. SMS messages are limited to 160 characters and Twitter reserved the remaining 20 characters for the username. Though technology changed the character limit stayed. And the 140-character limit constraint spurred creativity as Twitter became a fast-moving experience.
But after six weeks of testing, the 280-character limit is here to stay. Twitter had already discontinued the character limited when it came to direct messages. They had also relaxed limitations on photos, videos, and GIFs by not counting media attachments against the character limit. With the update, most users should automatically see the 280-character feature. You’ll know you have expanded tweets if the character counter at the bottom right-hand corner of the composer looks like a circle. It will count down from 280 until you run out of room.
If users don’t see the update, they can update their mobile app or refresh the website on their computers. And thanks to changes that the company introduced to its API last year, most Twitter applications should already be able to show longer tweets as well.
Double The Tweets
During testing, many Twitter users expressed concern over the expanded character limit, afraid that it would diminish the brevity Twitter is known for. But that wasn’t a fear that materialized during testing. In fact, only 5 percent of tweets sent were longer than 140 characters. And only 2 percent of tweets sent were over 190 characters.
While Twitter has not disclosed how many users took part in the testing phase, Twitter is confident with the results. Even before the 280 character limit, only 9 percent of tweets were as long as 140 characters. Which means that Twitter doesn’t expect the timeline reading experience to substantially change. Instead, Twitter expects that the longer character limit will allow for easier and faster expression.
Another upside from the increased character length? During testing Twitter says it found those with the longer character length received more engagement, including likes, retweets, mentions, and followers. Users with the longer character count also spent more time on Twitter and said that they felt more satisfied with how they were able to express themselves on the platform.
Research was telling Twitter that the character limit was a major cause of frustration for people tweeting in English. With the longer character count, users are able to devote less time to editing their tweets to fit the limit. Having more space makes users feel like it is easier and simpler to compress their thoughts.
Initial New User Spike
Another concern was that expanding the character limit risks disrupting the fast-moving, real-time nature of Twitter. That a longer character limit might encourage users to most more in paragraph form rather than a few words and a link. When comparing the new character length to the space taken up by polls, photos, or GIFs, the timeline experience for users should remain relatively the same.
In the initial launch of 280 character testing, there was a spike of users tweeting longer tweets, but it quickly leveled off. Now that the 280 character is rolling out to all users there is likely to be another spike of longer tweets that will hopefully level out again.
With all users now having access to 280-character tweets there is likely to be additional changes that weren’t seen during testing. Will those multi-message tweets shrink into a smaller number of tweets or will the additional space encourage people to write more?
An increase in Twitter engagement is bound to be good news for many marketing professionals. As Twitter raises character limit to 280 there is a chance to find new ways to creatively market on the social media platform.