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Tweeting in this crazy new 280-character world we now live in

In case you missed the news, Twitter recently expanded its character limit to 280, double the 140 we’ve been accustomed to. Back in September, Twitter announced it had started testing 280-character tweets, for the end goal of helping users be more expressive and engaged. In November, after the initial trial, the company rolled out expanded tweets for all users.

Twitter’s greatest strength and greatest pitfall has always been its pithiness. I’m sure over the years you’ve come across one of those blogs touting the best techniques for writing a short and sweet message on Twitter: “How To Write Compelling Tweets” or “10 Best Tips for Squeezing All Pertinent Information Into 140 Characters.” And then Twitter goes and doubles it?! Crazy, I tell you. Everything we’ve learned and practiced and, dare I say it, perfected, can be thrown out the window.

It’s only been a few weeks of living in the upside down Twitter-sphere but here are my thoughts on the potential benefits of a longer maximum length and tips on how to adjust your writing.

Firstly, there is no need to be intimidated by an increased character limit. You can totally use it to your advantage. Writing might even be a little easier, now that we don’t necessarily have to trim down our content to fit into 140 characters.

  • With the extra room, your copy no longer needs to be perfectly concise. Maybe you’ll even save some time crafting tweets and have fewer revisions.
  • A longer character limit is great for marketers who tweet in languages such as German, whose character counts are way longer than English. (Every language except Japanese, Chinese, and Korean have double the character limit.)
  • There’s more room for tagging and @mentions.
  • You can style tweets a bit more, adding in complete sentences and line breaks if you wish.
  • Marketers should use the extra space to add meaningful details.
  • Longer tweets gain more engagement and followers, thus increasing visibility. According to SocialFlow findings, the average retweet and likes of 140 characters was 13.71 and 26.52. However, the average retweet and likes of tweets 140 characters and above was 29.96 and 50.28 respectively.
  • One major concern was that 280 characters would mean timelines would fill up and UX would decline. However, Twitter reports that during the testing period only 5% of tweets sent were longer than 140 characters, and only 2% were over 190 characters. I, myself, haven’t noticed a plethora of long-form tweets crowding up my timeline. As a general rule of thumb, it’s still a good idea to be concise.


Ultimately though, will longer-form content on Twitter pay off? Will it be the change the platform needed in order to make more revenue and turn its stock right-side up? I think not. Simply because the social landscape is still so video-centric. The change in character count will not have any great impact on marketers – or Twitter’s success – in the long run.

Let’s be honest, 280 characters is really not even that long. I’d still recommend being succinct, particularly with some people thinking Twitter is now going to become cluttered and unpleasant to visit.

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Are you using Twitter more with this change? Less? Not at all because you believe Twitter is already dead? Let me know in the comments section below.


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