A Twitter Change Years in the Making


Yesterday, Twitter made a move that has been years in the making by changing the character count for all users from 140 to 280. With this development, I was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief. I had been anticipating this change for two years and was starting to get antsy. The past month and a half was especially brutal as Twitter gifted select users with the 280 privilege. However, neither I nor @ccuchanticleers received the coveted longer tweet clearance, something that made me feel a bit left out.

But not anymore. The major Twitter overhaul is here and everyone can start composing dramatically longer tweets. With such a drastic change to one of the platforms on the Mount Rushmore of social media, is this a good thing?

Five years ago this month, I sent out my 15,000th tweet and 1,500th Instagram image. Since then, a lot has changed with both social media giants.

Well, it depends on who you ask. As is the case with every social media channel makeover, you will have users who detest any adjustment made simply because it is different. What Twitter did yesterday wasn’t just a minor tweak; it basically nullified the foundation of what the service was founded on. Thus, many Twitter traditionalists trashed the increase in characters, making their opinion known through…well…Twitter.

You also have Twitter users who are more accepting of the change. It is tough to be a 140 character precisionist. The freedom to now cram more words and emojis into a single tweet relieves some of the pressure of attempting to “get it all in.”

As for me? I take the same stance I always do when reacting to social media change. I don’t just accept it, I embrace it. What else can I do? As a social media professional you have no choice but to expect, and then capitalize, on changes. Today I asked our audience what they hope to see from our account with respect to the new character limit. A good percentage wants us to stick with 140 character tweets but the majority would like to see a combination of short and long messages. Also, it is very obvious that the last thing our audience wants is for us to use the max character count for every single tweet we send out.

Earlier today, I asked our users what they want to see from our account in respect to the Twitter character limit.

So I will move forward with using the increased character count when it is to our advantage. There is no need to abuse it. I will go about drafting tweets as if I only had 140 characters to work with and then fill in with more detail as needed. I have quickly found out over the past 36 hours that 280 characters gives you much more leeway than even I had imagined.

From a personal standpoint, I am excited for the change. I think it will vastly improve Twitter dialogue among users and I might start sharing excerpts from my blog when I publish a new post. I will take the same approach with my own account as I am taking with the Coastal account and challenge myself to only use 200+ characters when absolutely necessary. Until analytics say otherwise, I do think tweets closer to 140 characters will have more of an impact than tweets closer to 280 characters.

The transition period after such a change can be tough. But just give it a week or two and I am sure many of us won’t even remember when Twitter was synonymous with the number 140. Embrace the change! Don’t Blink.