In January of this year, Twitter, and the rest of social media, was a buzz with the possibility of Twitter lifting its 140 character limit and what it would mean to the overall tweet experience. There were rumors it could go as high as 10,000 characters or maybe become unlimited. Something didn’t seem right about that, though. Brevity had been the name of the game since 2006 when Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, Biz Stone, and Noah Glass founded the service. It felt like Twitter, wanting to reach a broader audience, was going down the dark path of mimicking its bigger rival, Facebook. They had already taken the step of changing their color scheme so it looked similar with gray against right and no more background pictures, except in certain places.
We waited with baited breath, but nothing happened until September 19th.
They haven’t gone as far as lifting the 140 character limit, but they have made it easier for us wordsmiths to fully utilize it by preventing a few things from counting against it. They are:
- @names count if you are sending to other Twitter users, but they don’t if you are replying to users.
- Links count, but media attachments (think pictures, animated GIFS, and videos) don’t. According to Social Media Today, tweets with images generate at least 3 times more of a response than basic text and videos 9 times, so feel free to add them, but only four.
- If quote a Tweet that has a link (quote tweet), the link doesn’t count.
The changes didn’t stop there. When you started a tweet with an @name, you tweeted to the user and the followers you shared in common, and not all your followers. To get around it, you had to put a period in front of the @. Well, no longer. You tweet and your followers will see it. Want to emphasize your point or reflect on something you tweeted? You can now retweet and quote tweet yourself.
Buffer has some suggestions for how to make full use of these changes. They include providing more context in your replies since you don’t have to worry about the replied to usernames or any media attachments counting against you. A study by Twitter, according to Buffer’s report, shows that hashtags bump retweets by 16% while photos bump it by 35%. Buffer says they’ll be ready to handle the changes by the time every user has them.
I still wish that they had lifted the 140 character limit just a bit, say up to 250 to 400. However, I’m definitely happy about what’s come down the pike. What about you? Will this change how you tweet? Let me know in the comments below.