My Thoughts on Twitter’s 280 Character Limit

The day that Twitter entered my life

“Twitter? Oh, it’s brilliant. You HAVE to try it. It’s so much better than Facebook; you can engage with people in the public eye (Stephen Fry et al) and the best thing of all is that your posts can only be 140 characters, so they are short and sweet: tweets! Look, I’ll show you my account…”

This was the first I’d heard about Twitter. Now it seems like a lifetime ago, but it didn’t take long before it became my most preferred social media platform by a long shot. Outside of work, it’s where I go to engage with businesses/organisations, check out the latest rugby score updates, find out if there are any traffic delays ahead and it’s new moments feature can be an excellent news source.

280 characters on Twitter

Earlier this year, Twitter rolled out some changes. A new user interface (check out this article on wired.com) was high up on its agenda, but so too was a change to Twitter’s character count. 2017 saw a feature which changed the way we reply to one another, increasing the possibility of maximising the 140 character count limit without cluttering your post with @usernames using up valuable consonants and vowels. As well as this, image/content data ceased to be a part of the 140 character limit, opening us up to really making the most of our 140 character entitlement.

In general, changes were beneficial for marketers, even though the updates to Twitter’s replies did pose potential issues with regards to spamming. In all, though, these changes were subtle enough to be widely accepted and they brought Twitter a little more up-to-date without impacting on its whole ethos and, lets face it, the Twitter bits we love.

Doubling the character count limit, on the other hand, is a bit more of a sledgehammer approach.

This has been in the pipeline for a while, and the minor changes always looked to be part of a bigger picture. But the joy (and challenge) of Twitter is getting that all important message into just 140 characters. But 140 characters is plenty.  The Japanese poetic form of a Haiku has been around for hundreds of years, conveying powerful messages in 17 syllables. Amazing. And also amazing, is the fact that 17 syllables sits quite comfortably with 140 characters. Coincidence? I think not.

I love text and language, the written form, and each time I work hard to get rid of that minus character count by trimming of words and editing phrases, I feel like the message I complete in 140 characters is succinct, informative and to-the-point. Who needs 280 characters on Twitter? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. We don’t need waffle on Twitter, and a doubled character count may just provide us with that very thing. But let’s face it, all we really want are short and sweet: tweets!

Enough about my thoughts, what about yours?

It’s not a dead cert’ yet, but this new update is being trialled on random users. Do you currently have access to Twitter’s 280 character limit? Comment below, let me know… I’d love to hear your thoughts. And don’t forget to connect with me on Twitter.

Daniel Jenkins (@DanWJenkins)

2 thoughts on “My Thoughts on Twitter’s 280 Character Limit

  1. I think if they just ensured they did not count space and tags and usernames it would have been better. But perhaps it would have been difficult at back end. so overall it does make more sense for 280 characters. ?

    Liked by 1 person

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