Twitter’s 280 Character Limit

16 Oct 2017

Well, if we’d just hung fire on our Twitter (Evolution of Twitter 2.0) blog post, we’d have had yet another update to add in there for you!

No, it’s not that Twitter have finally listened and have given us the opportunity to edit our tweets if typos are made rather than completely deleting and re-composing the post… but they are currently testing a double length tweet, giving a select few 280 characters to work with.

Twitter’s Expanded Limits

Twitter explain why they are testing our a longer character limit, here.

From our extensive ‘Twitter research’ so far, we understand that the majority of Twitter users quite frankly just don’t see the point.

We all know how frustrating it can be composing a tweet for it to be a handful of characters too long, especially from a business account where you want to convey industry or company information – and sometimes it’s just impossible to convey everything you want to within the allocated amount of characters. You don’t want to omit any key information, however you’re unable to post the tweet if it is over the character limit. For this reason, we can see why Twitter are trialling the feature.

However, from a marketing and traffic point of view, we’re not sure how beneficial this new feature would be to businesses. From a marketing point of view, the optimal tweet length to encourage more retweets is between 110 and 115 characters. The more retweets you receive, the more likely you are to attract more traffic to your Twitter page and in turn your website… so are the 280 characters really necessary?

It takes a fair bit of creative effort to convey what you want to say whilst making it meet the 140 character limit. With so much fresh social content saturating our feeds day in day out, hour in hour out, will people take the time to engage with them properly or (once the novelty wears off) or will they just scroll past? If you compare a tweet to a social post on Facebook, how many of your friends’ essay-like social posts do you actually read? You give it a skim-read to be polite and so you vaguely know the situation if they ask you about it – but how many of you absorb it?

Additionally, the majority of the longer tweets we have seen are just… well, a bit boring. People are just ‘waffling’ to fill the space purely because they can, and it’s not all that engaging.

Some people are trying to use it for good, however, which can be commended, such as to encourage people to do what they can to help countries in need, or that have been hit by the latest natural disasters and are currently struggling. On the other hand, this could have been encouraged in a shorter tweet, like we have always done.

Many of the responses seen have also taken the tone of “that’s cool and all Twitter, but it’s not what we asked for, where’s the edit button?”. On one hand we think this could be a great feature for if you make a mistake when you’re composing a tweet.

However, perhaps the reason we haven’t given us an edit button yet is in an attempt to keep Twitter users a little safer. Twitter users are annoyed that they still don’t have an edit button, however many won’t consider how it could be used ‘for evil’. A tweet could be composed and glean a huge reach through retweets and interactions, however it could then be edited to convey a negative message, inappropriate content or propaganda and so on once they have accumulated a significant amount of RTs.

Most of us however, haven’t had the pleasure of trying out the new 280 character limit, so we’re stuck with 140! We know it can be hard creating short, snappy and engaging content in as little as 140 characters, so if you need help managing your social media just give the HushBots a shout!!

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