How Twitter’s new 280-character limit creates new opportunities for Marketers.

Posted on: 12/11/17

By Mollie Cook

We’ve all been there, the funniest story or best closing line, but just a few too many characters to fit into 140 characters.

While “brevity is the soul of wit,” Twitter’s newest update allows its users 280 characters to express themselves on the platform. Twitter tested this feature in September before granting access to all of its 330 million monthly active users in November.

Aliza Rosen, product manager at Twitter, explained in Twitter’s blog that people writing in languages other than Chinese, Korean and Japanese had a harder time expressing their thoughts in under 140 characters due to the density of their word-to-character ratio. Something that takes 140 characters to say in English might take 154 in Spanish but only 67 in Japanese. 

And the discrepancy left something to be desired for those tweeting in languages that take more characters to get to the point.

Historically, nine percent of tweets in English bumped up against the 140-character line, and users spent countless hours editing out important details, letters, or punctuation, some of which changed the intended meaning of the entire tweet. In some cases, users completely abandoned the tweet.

By introducing the 280-character limit, Twitter hopes to improve the experience for those not tweeting in Chinese, Korean, or Japanese and increase the time that users spend on the platform.

While some have gone so far as creating Chrome extensions to truncate Tweets at 140 characters, Rosen notes, “the higher character limit made users feel more satisfied with how they expressed themselves on Twitter, their ability to find good content, and Twitter overall.”

Since the feature dropped, only five percent of tweets surpassed the 140-character mark, and only one percent of tweets actually made it to the full 280 characters. Good news for those thinking these longer tweets would saturate their feed – the brevity of Twitter has remained, and it doesn’t seem like our Twitter experience will change all that much.

So, what does all of this mean for marketers?

Extra space allows for the use of proper grammar, punctuation, and the formation of a complete thought. That means less time paring content down.

The NBA Referees have now called for all Twitter complaints about specific calls to be calm, well-reasoned and full of complete sentences. We’re on board.

Brands now have the opportunity to speak to more of their consumers with one tweet. Rather than relying on the handy translate button, brands can serve messages in multiple languages without hitting the limit.  

In the first weeks with the increased limit, marketers’ creativity has shined, especially in emoji art. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center reminded the Twittersphere that more space is always a good idea.

Delta took us to new heights.

And Spotify tested our song trivia skills.

Including multiple links in one tweet lets users share more relevant information per disruption. Bill Simmons, Ringer CEO and sports writer, shared links to several pertinent pieces at once rather than barraging Twitter with separate nuggets of information. It’s hard enough to get our audience’s attention, so why try harder than we have to?

Sometimes, 140 characters just weren’t enough. The extra character allotment encourages more detailed, vivid storytelling and even lets us have a little fun with iconic pop culture references that simply wouldn’t fit with fewer characters (we’re looking at you Law & Order: SVU, The Office, and Finding Nemo).

Just because there is more space doesn’t mean that we have to use it. No matter how many characters we use, we have to ensure that the content we produce is relevant to our brands’ audiences. That’s one thing that will never change.

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