tweaking twitter

twitter’s 10K characters: the good, the bad & the ugly

Rumours are ripe in the social media world after a little bird revealed that a fellow little bluebird could be exploring new avenues. Of course, we’re talking about the potential expansion of Tweet characters from 140 to 10,000.

Twitter has been making some substantial changes recently, including the introduction of ‘moments’ and the controversial decision to change ‘favourites’ to ‘likes’ which has brought them more in line with other social media platforms. However, the news that Twitter was considering abolishing the 140-character limit was something that shocked everyone. There’s been a bit of a divide in opinion on the subject so we thought we’d offer our thoughts.

The good

Let’s be honest, the Twitter character limit has given us all a headache at one time or another. That moment of frustration when you’ve got the perfect tweet and it’s only two measly characters over the limit? Until now, you had no option but to dramatically throw yourself on the floor and pray for the mercy of the Twitter gods. The 10,000 character limit will eliminate this tedious issue. There are times when there’s a need for extra characters, particularly with Twitter Q&A sessions. It’d also be good to have some room to breathe when you’re adding URLs and photos to Tweets, as these things shouldn’t necessarily detract from the character limit.

As digital devotees, we should really be embracing this innovative move. The digital world is so fast paced that we should always celebrate new movements. If it doesn’t work, it’s not the end of the world; that’s the beauty of innovation, it’s all about trial and error. Furthermore, with Google now indexing tweets, it would make sense to increase the character limit of tweets. It would allow Twitter to become a powerful content marketing platform and, down the line, it could create far more SEO opportunities and revolutionise the SEO and social media world as we know it.

The bad

On the other hand, we personally believe that crafting the perfect tweet is something of an art. There’s no better feeling than successfully condensing the perfect blend of wit and opinion into that concise 140-character limit. 10,000 characters just don’t pose the same challenge. At Uprise, we’re big fans of the Innocent Twitter feed, and seeing their short, snappy updates is always entertaining. It’d take the fun out of it if we knew they hadn’t participated in a tiresome battle of wills against the tyrannical Twitter rule of 140 characters.

Then there’s live tweeting to consider; one tweet could now easily take up a screen. At present, tweets are short enough to run along the bottom of news adverts and sports coverage. They even show up on television adverts and this will surely be lost if the characters increase. It’s worth noting that Twitter will reportedly make you click to expand the tweet in order to reveal the full 10,000 characters, but live tweeting would still lose its purpose if tweets cut off mid-sentence whilst displayed in real-time on a big screen.

The ugly

Worst of all, by losing the 140-character limit, Twitter will lose their USP. A few years back, Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter, even commented on why the platform was called Twitter:

“We came across the word ‘twitter’, and it was just perfect. The definition was ‘a short burst of inconsequential information,’ and ‘chirps from birds’. And that’s exactly what the product was.”

The logo obviously derived from this same idea. Changing the twitter character count seems to undermine the brand and it loses not just its history, but its spark as well.

Extending the limit to 10,000 seems to detract from the immediacy of news that has become synonymous with Twitter. In recent years, Twitter has changed the way in which people communicate; its 140-characters has completely revolutionised how we consume news. It’ll be a shame to lose that.

Our view

In an ideal world, Twitter would keep its 140-character limit, but it would let you add images without affecting the character count. After all, if a picture speaks a thousand words, then your tweet doesn’t need to!

It is understandable that Twitter want to shake things up. With devaluing stock and the news that 44% of user accounts have never tweeted, we can appreciate Twitter’s concerns. However, increasing the character count doesn’t seem like the best way to improve the social media platform.

Jonathan Long, a marketing expert and columnist for Entrepreneur, ran a poll on his Twitter to see what peoples’ thoughts were. Less than 15% of people wanted 10,000 characters. Interestingly, 32% of people did want an edit button though. So it does seem like there are other more important things that Twitter could focus on to increase their user base.

Whatever happens, one thing is for sure; 2016 will be a big year for Twitter. If you need help with your social media strategy then get in touch.

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