Twitter’s latest update has been met with a mixed reaction and I have to admit I was on the fence when Twitter announced it was testing 240 character Tweets back in September. However, since the longer tweet format was rolled out to all users last week I’ve already been pleasantly surprised.
What’s the benefit of longer tweets?
Twitter has recognised that in some languages (English being one of them) fitting a thought into a Tweet is often a challenge. Bearing in mind that you may be adding a link and hashtags to that though, if you’re a Twitter user then no doubt at some point or another you’ve abandoned a Tweet because you fit all you need to say into the character limit.
As Twitter explained in their announcement (linked to above) when they tested the 240 character limit much fewer tweets were abandoned and less time was spent editing Tweets to fit within the limit.
I’ve already experienced those benefits myself over the past week – sometimes a Tweet just needs more words to communicate it’s full meaning and you don’t have to sacrifice that meaning for the sake of fitting in a hashtag anymore.
Why are some people unhappy about the change?
The 140-character limit has forever been Twitter’s USP and I love the fact it forces us to be concise and impactful with our message – there’s simply no room for waffling.
The concern of many people is that Twitter will lose the very thing that makes it unique and it’s going to become a less engaging platform as a result. It’s clear that Twitter was well aware of this potential downside but through testing, they have found that, once the initial novelty wore off, only 5% of Tweets were longer than 140 characters and only 2% were longer than 190.
What’s more, it is also going to make it easier to engage with other users. Previously, you might have seen long strings of Tweets where people have struggled to fit a reply into 140 characters. The extra space is going to make it easier for people to connect, something which Twitter has suggested they’ve already seen through their testing.
Top tips for creating awesome tweets
- Keep the message as succinct and meaningful as you can – just because there is space for more words doesn’t mean you have to use them. Less is often more.
- Choose your hashtags wisely – in a similar vein, you don’t need to fill the extra space with additional hashtags, it’s a limit, not a target. Stick to 1-3 carefully chosen hashtags and use them either within your text, if relevant, or at the end of your Tweet.
- Interact with other users – the extra room may make it easier for you to connect with people and have meaningful conversations on Twitter so make the most of it.