Twitter's new 280-character limit: Analysis from Juggling Swords
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Twitter’s new 280-character limit: An innovative adaptation or a move that simply wasn’t needed?

Nov 9, 2017 / by jugglingswords / In Business, Content marketing, News, Social media / Tags: , , , , , / Leave a comment


Twitter’s new 280-character limit: An innovative adaptation or a move that simply wasn’t needed?

Twitter has increased the maximum number of available characters in a tweet from 140 to 280. The new character limit is huge in terms of what the social media giant considers as developing its technology to meet user’s needs.

Once billed simply as the home of bitesize content, Twitter’s new 280-character limit has literally doubled its available space for content and, in turn, could take up twice as much space on your newsfeed.

But is this a move forward for the brand; was it an update users were screaming out for; or was it something that wasn’t needed and seems to eerily move towards a Facebook imitation?

Twitter 140 characters

What originally attracted many users to Twitter was the limit on characters available. In this you had to relay your message quickly and straight to the point. There was no waffle, feature-length backstory or an abundance of unneeded information. It was short, snappy and to the point.

The 140-character limit originated from the old SMS limit of being 160 characters. Factor in the 20 characters for your username and you were left with 140. Simple, so why the change?

Although sometimes challenging for agencies and social media executives alike, the old system would have you considering sentence structure, what information to include and, of course, video snippets – Twitter and videos, huh?

We had to be careful but actionable in our language here – we couldn’t deliberately misspell or use incorrect grammar in an attempt at getting the full tweet published.

It was sometimes challenging, but it was our job. A job we can do.

Twitter’s new 280-character limit

The new limit applies to the majority of Twiiter users worldwide, excluding tweets written in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean because their single characters can convey more information anyway.

The new limit takes away what can be considered as Twitters unique selling point (USP). 280 characters is still less than what LinkedIn and Facebook allow, but can we still assume the content on Twitter is now bitesize?

When it was trialled, only 5% of tweets sent were longer than 140 characters and only 2% more than 190 Twitter announced.

Twitter suggests those that used longer tweets got more followers, more engagements and, in turn, spent more time browsing Twitter. That seems feasible – the more time you spend reading someone’s tweets, the longer you stay on that platform. From this we have to be careful that we keep the content interesting and engaging, and not boring as to deter interest.

It just goes to show that we have to be mindful when these social media juggernauts are trialling new systems. Just recently we learned Facebook were trialling a new and potentially game-changing piece of software…

Challenges to social media marketers

The main challenges to social media marketers will be to remember and hone the language, the actionable output and, ultimately, remembering the goal at the end of it: Making your initial content engaging so users are more likely to share or click-through to your website.

We have to make sure that marketers don’t become lazy and use the extra space as a scapegoat for pushing everything out. Just because you are using Hootsuite doesn’t mean the content between Facebook and Twitter has to completely mimic one another.

Just like the speed limit on the motorway in the UK is 70mph – you don’t need to use the limit when driving. Likewise, with Twitter the limit is 280 characters, but if you don’t need it all, don’t use it.

We conducted a poll on our Twitter account yesterday and, although the sample size was rather small, the results show a mixed opinion. However, the majority agree it is a good update.

Personally, we at JS are slightly undecided. 280 characters at first glance might be a useful update as long as we remember our marketing principles.

Another update similar to this and we might lose the whole meaning behind Twitter…

Although the jury is still out on this; it would be great to hear your thoughts. Perhaps, you should tweet us them – you’ve got 280 characters to do so with now! @JugglingSwords

Juggling Swords is an Edinburgh-based content marketing and PR agency. Looking to supercharge your social media marketing for Christmas? Chat to a member of the team here today.


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