Growing up with Twitter I developed a unique skill. The ability to write 140 characters without even counting! It is a skill I am proud of and one that almost every millennial marketer must have developed by now. In the future, quick character counting is a skill that won’t be needed as Twitter plans to allow users to share tweets much longer than the social media giant’s current 140-character limit.
Recode broke the news of the planned change explaining it was unclear what the new product would look like but it would allow users to publish long-form content. Twitter CEO and Co-founder Jack Dorsey later chimed in with a message that appears to confirm the very limited character count will soon no longer exist.
We’ve spent a lot of time observing what people are doing on Twitter, and we see them taking screenshots of text and tweeting it. Instead, what if the text… was actually text? – Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO & Co-Founder
This is the closest the company has ever come to speaking publicly about the feature. Recode suggested the new Twitter character limit will be a larger 10,000 characters. A number that makes sense given it is the same as the current character restriction on direct messages. The company similarly scrapped the 140 character limit on direct messages last August. You may wonder why the small character count that makes the social networking site so unique began.
Why The Character Count Exists
I never remember Twitter without a character count. The social media sites character limit trademark goes right back to day one. Twitter started when a group of young programmers created a program that sent SMS messages to and from small groups of people. The standard length of a text message is 160-characters. As a result, Twitter founders restricted each tweet to 140 characters to ensure the full tweet could be sent in a single text message along with a Twitter username of up to 20 characters.
The program later evolved into what would become popular social networking site Twitter, consisting of both mobile and web-based messaging. The character count has remained the same until now. Twitter plan to roll out the new less limited character count as soon as the end of this quarter.
What The New Character Count Means For Marketers
The way people communicate on Twitter is different to every other social network. We are forced to be concise and squeeze our marketing message, photos, videos, links, tags, memes, emojis and hashtags in a mere 140 characters. Marketers like myself won’t have long to pick up on the new Twitter etiquette that will come with the almost limitless character count.
1. Links Will Not Be Shortened
The days of shortening links will be gone. At least, it won’t be a must to do. While shorting tweets keep links neat and come with extra tracking capabilities, it won’t be necessary to save characters.
2. The Days Of Writing Tweet ‘1/4’ Are Numbered
You will no longer need to write multiple messages in order to communicate something that just simply can’t be explained in one 140 character tweet. Writing one of god knows how many tweets will not be necessary as you will be able to write to your heart’s content in one single tweet.
3. More Room For Emoji’s And Photos
You hit gold. You crafted a tweet to exactly 140 characters but then realize you forgot to add an important emoji or photo. Time to figure a way to cut a character or even a couple of them! We have all been there but that problem is gone one the character limit has been lifted. Marketers are free to go crazy with content.
4. Prepare For Customer “Rants”
One of life’s great pleasures was listening to customer complaints in only 140 characters or a couple of tweets. It eliminated a ten-minute earful over the phone or a complaint email the length of my hand. Twitter made managing customer experience a little easier but prepare for the rants. A less limited Twitter message means our beloved customers can write (and write) to tell you what you are doing wrong.
5. More Hashtags
Hashtags were limited on Twitter because of the tight character count. This will no longer be the case. Up to 30 hashtags are permitted on Instagram. A far less limited Twitter character count will likely mean people will use more hashtags than they currently have room for.
6. Microblogging Will Start On Twitter
Right now the only way to but your writing on Twitter was with a link to your blog. When the character count increases people will be able to microblog on Twitter itself with little limitation on how much they write.
Is Twitter Turning Into Another Facebook?
I have to ask. When you look at points one to six above, you will notice they are already happening on Facebook with a long time. When your competitor has 1.4 billion global users and you have 300 million, perhaps you might just look to them for inspiration.
Twitter is unique to Facebook in many ways, one being they do not use an edge rank on their main feed. What you see in your feed is a live version of what your followers are Tweeting. The addition of Twitter’s ‘While You Were Away’ section took away with Twitter’s real-time uniqueness.
Will Twitter further loose its authenticity by scrapping the tight character count?
What I Learned From Twitter’s Limited Character Count
Twitter will scrap their tight character count but my valuable skill of crafting a message of 140 characters without even thinking will never go to waste.
If Twitter thought me one thing, it was to be concise. It thought me there is almost always a way to shorten what you want to say. Being long winded pleases nobody. Being concise allows people to pick up what you are say quick and easy with little effort.