In the last few days, reports have emerged that Twitter’s famous 140 character limit could be increased to a giant 10,000 characters (the current size of its direct messaging feature) in the next few months. One of the biggest social media platforms going, Twitter has gained over 302 million active users since it began in 2006. However, since its launch 10 years ago, it’s not yet made a profit.
The original 140 characters initially began as a way to fit a single tweet into the space of an SMS (160 characters) but with SMS becoming more and more outdated, is the restriction still necessary? Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter says that more and more people are taking screenshots in order to share a message of longer length, or link to another site where more information can be given.
Social media is an integral part of many businesses’ marketing strategy. Twitter provides a way to engage with audiences in short, fast pace, real-time snippets. This differs from Facebook which can be considered longer and perhaps more conversational. It is also very different from LinkedIn which encourages a professional and more formal approach to share and engage.
Businesses use Twitter in order to share content, offer promotions, directly speak to customers and much more. It can be a really effective channel in encouraging communication with your brand, promoting what you do and sharing what may be of interest to your audience. Will 10,000 characters change the pace of Twitter and the way businesses should tweet?
Benefits of 10k tweets
Sharing content is one of the main focuses for businesses on Twitter. Whether this is content you have produced yourself or sharing what might benefit your audience – as long as it is relevant, your business is building up its reputation.
10k tweets will allow users to include entire articles and more detailed tweets, without the need to link elsewhere or take screenshots. The uniqueness of Twitter is its fast pace and by having to click on links and wait for sites to load, it can interrupt the Twitter user experience. Not only does 10,000 characters give you more scope to entice your audience, but people are more likely to read your content if it doesn’t require leaving the Twitter site itself. Users may be put off by having to go through a process of clicking on your website to find out more – giving them the information there and then is more likely to attract interest.
There are concerns that increasing the character limit so dramatically will slow down the way in which we digest content on Twitter, contradicting its main selling point of bite-sized and fast. Jack Dorsey, describes it like this: “What makes Twitter, Twitter is its fast, public, live, conversational nature.” Even with 10,000 characters, only the first 140 will be shown with an option to expand – so the fast flowing nature of the site can still be maintained despite tweets getting longer.
As previously mentioned, each social media platform requires a different voice and style. With longer posts, there are suggestions that Twitter is turning into Facebook. This makes the way in which businesses differentiate between the two a lot harder. If the length of your posts are the same, and both are conversational in nature, then it becomes more difficult to establish different styles, targets and audiences between them.
Although the change claims not to influence Twitter’s fast pace nature, it will be impossible for it not to be affected at all. As tweets get longer, quality can become compromised too. Twitter’s defining feature is its 140 characters. If this increases and quality decreases, Twitter usage may start to dwindle too – meaning that time and effort spent on this social media channel could be wasted.
The increase to 10,000 characters does seem rather drastic. Users have been suggesting ways in which people can fit more into a tweet without increasing the limit. For example, pictures, twitter handles, links and hashtags should be exempt from the 140 character limit.
Social media companies are constantly creating updates and revolutionising the way we use their services. Like many of these changes, at the time they may seem drastic but in a year will we even remember what life was like before them? Businesses will need to rethink the way in which they project themselves and engage with customers on Twitter, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. 10,000 characters removes the restrictions of showcasing our products and services and could be a great tool to make use of in the future.
(To give you an idea of what 10,000 characters is, this blog post is only 4,737!)
Connie Barrow is Operations Director of Armchair Call Handling, based in Hampshire, England. She is responsible for the efficient running of all of Armchair’s inbound and outbound call centre activities. Connie leads all aspects of operational management within the group, including client liaison and reporting, recruitment and training of all staff.