Twitter Is Now Experimenting With 280 Character Tweets!
From its very inception, the essence of Twitter has been brevity. There has always been something intriguing about character limits — and 140, though arbitrary, has become the standard benchmark for conciseness in the social media world thanks to Twitter.
That being said, the appeal of 140 seems to be waning quickly. After Twitter’s initial growth proved to be explosive, its ability to attract new users has slowed steadily over the past couple of years — which is undoubtedly one of the most important reasons why the social media giant has decided to begin exploring new strategies for increasing its appeal. And, to the surprise of many, one of the first aspects of the site that Twitter management targeted for improvement was that seeming sacred character limit.
Businesses looking to grow their social media presence invariably look toward analytics. And social media networks looking to grow their user base do the same. Though statistical trends are not always perfect indicators of how companies can be managed more effectively, they do oftentimes offer some worthwhile insights. And in Twitter’s case, one trend in particular seems to have influenced the groundbreaking decision to double the site’s defining character limit: the countries in which the network continues experiencing growth all use languages that are highly concise in terms of character-to-word ratios.
While English, Spanish, French, and even Arabic speakers are all abandoning Twitter for other social media networks, Korean, chinese, and Japanese speakers continue flocking to the site. There are, of course, alternative explanations out there — but Twitter appears to be banking on the notion that its users simply want a little bit more room for self-expression. This would seem to explain why the site’s success or failure seems to hinge upon linguistics.
Though the evidence cited above may seem quite convincing, Twitter is still (understandably) hesitant to alter their formula too quickly — which is why the network has unveiled their new 280 character limit for a select audience only. A small group of users has been automatically granted the privilege to post in up to 280 characters…but the vast majority of us are still constrained to the traditional 140 limit.
However, if you have not been selected as an automatic participant in the new experiment (which is more likely than not), you do still have the option to participate voluntarily. Doing so will require a bit of elbow grease and tech know-how, though. This article published in the UK Telegraph offers a straightforward guide to unlocking the new character limit for individuals (and businesses) that have not been automatically included in the experiment.
The Pros and cons of Longer Tweets.
Of course, just because you can participate in the new experiment does not mean that you should. There are certainly both pros and cons to both the original limit and the new expanded version. Whether or not Twitter decides to implement a new character limit permanently remains to be seen — but either way, you as a marketer may find this breakdown of social media’s newest and most divisive debate to be useful:
The Pros of Longer Tweets
• More users. If Twitter’s predictions are correct, then increasing the character limit could potentially lead to larger audiences for all Twitter users. In its most successful years of growth, the site was adding tens of millions of users annually — and if this trend can be replicated, the financial value and marketing potential of your Twitter following could increase substantially.
• Increased room for complete thoughts. If you find internet abbreviations, threaded tweets, and overly-condensed marketing messages annoying, then you are probably welcoming this new change with open arms. The opportunity for longer microblogs is certainly appealing to some users — and if you are smart about it, this can be used to your advantage.
• Novelty. At the very least, the increase in character limits should provide a temporary boost in interest for the site. Regardless of how effective the change is in the long term, there is certainly short-term potential for any marketer who activates the 280 character tweet option and uses that limit wisely.
The Pros of Twitter’s Original character Limit
• Proven success. Even if Twitter was failing to attract the rapid growth that its stockholders dreamed of, the site is still a leader in the social media industry, and its existing 140 character formula undoubtedly played an important role in cultivating and maintaining this success. Part of the reason why the decision to change is so intriguing (even for those who are not social media marketing experts) is the fact that it is such a risky and profound change!
• Forced creativity. Being concise is actually one of the most important marks of a good writer — and many people, marketers included, indulge in the common bad habit of long-windedness. As restrictive as Twitter’s character limit may seem, it actually forces some people to be better and more creative writers!
• A Focus on Visual Content. Because of Twitter’s tight limitations on text length, the site is more focused on visual content than many alternative social media sites. For companies that use marketing videos and images wisely, this can be a significant advantage over their less media-savvy competitors — and longer character limits could potentially undermine this advantage.
Adapting your writing strategy for longer Tweets.
Whether or not you agree with Twitter’s decision to increase the maximum Tweet length, adapting to this new reality may be necessary. (Moreover, even business owners who are not big fans of the change may wish to make a few long-form Tweets simply to take advantage of the novelty-based attention that the change is garnering.) Here are a few tips that can help make your long Tweets more effective:
• Keep it conversational. Just because the length of your Tweets has changed, doesn’t mean the tone should change — Twitter’s appeal is based largely on its informal, conversational style, and there is no reason to let that fall to the wayside just because your tweets are 140 characters longer.
• Use line breaks. This can help keep your Tweets easily digestible.
• Stay catchy. Action words, catch phrases, and smart writing are still musts — and just because you have a 280 character limit doesn’t mean you should feel pressured to be longer than necessary.
For more useful Twitter tips and social media tricks, visit Bearly Marketing online today!