For users of Twitter, the social media platform’s defining feature has always been its 140-character limit – a limit initially chosen for compatibility with the SMS messaging system. For better or worse, the way we communicate on Twitter has always been influenced by this enforced brevity.
It was something of a surprise, therefore, when the social media giant recently announced that it was rolling out a new 280-character limit to help users “more easily express themselves.” As of now, the new limit has been rolled out to all users and it is leading to some interesting shifts and consequences when it comes to both everyday interactions and social media marketing on the platform.
- More complete sentences. Textspeak existed before Twitter, but the average Twitter timeline is littered with abbreviations, initialisms, and slang. “Be right back” became “brb.” “Throwback Thursday” becomes “#tbt.” This won’t change overnight with the doubling of the character limit, and people aren’t going to stop using already established slang and hashtags on the platform, but we do think you’re going to be seeing more complete – and grammatically correct – sentences being used. That could be a real positive for social media marketing; it gives just that bit more space for the nuanced and punchy copywriting that is so important in other marketing and advertising venues.
- Reduces the need for multi-part tweets. Before if you want to express an idea in more than 140 characters, users need to split their message across two or more tweets in a thread. That worked, sort of, but Twitter’s user interface doesn’t always lend itself to following such threads. With a 280-character limit, we think it will be much easier to get your marketing message across in a single tweet, making it easier for people to retweet and in turn, help you gain more impressions.
- More engagement opportunities. A doubled character limit gives you twice as much room to express your message fully. But what it also provides is more space for tags and hashtags, and that can be used to great effect in social media marketing. More hashtags mean a more extensive outreach, while the opportunity to tag more online influencers has the potential to greatly expand the audience for your message.
Some have argued that Twitter doubling the character limit is in some way taking away its unique selling point, that the enforced brevity of 140 characters is what has made the social media platform the success that it undeniably is. However, at Beyond Fifteen we think this could be an excellent move for both Twitter as a social networking platform, and for brands looking to reach out and engage with an online audience.