Twitter Confirms Changes to 140 Character Limit

Written by David Somerville - 25 May 2016

What started out as a rumour a few weeks ago has now been confirmed as gospel by the folks at Twitter. Todd Sherman, senior product manager at Twitter, announced today that "in the coming months we'll make changes to simplify Tweets including what counts towards your 140 characters...".

So what are these changes going to be, and more importantly, how could this benefit your social media strategy?

What's changing?

Currently, as you will know full well, certain elements such as @names in a reply, photos, GIFs, videos and polls all take up valuable space within your tweet. When these changes come into effect these elements are no longer going to count towards the limit of 140 characters - put simply, you will have more space to use more words!

Twitter 140 character changes May 2016

Here are the four key changes you need to know:

  1. Media attachments - including photos, videos, polls, GIFs or using a Quote Tweet will not count towards the character limit
  2. Replies - replying to a tweet with an @name will not use up valuable characters, which Twitter states will make conversations easier and more straightforward
  3. Retweet and Quote Tweet yourself - for all you fans of a spot of self-promotion, this will be a favourite! The Retweet button will appear on your own tweets, allowing you to Retweet or Quote Tweet yourself easily
  4. Simplifying @name mention - up to now, if you wanted to @name mention someone publicly (to all of your followers, not just the ones that follow that person as well), you would have had to use '.@' as a convention. Now, any new tweets that start with a username will reach all of your followers

How can this benefit my Twitter strategy?

The great thing about these changes is that they give you much more room to play with. Here's a few intial thoughts on why this is great for marketers:

  • Get more creative - images and video content used in tweets has been found to provide higher levels of engagement, reach and click-throughs to your website (we've seen this ourselves numerous times), so you can now use these much more often and really bring your tweets to life
  • Use proper words - how many times have you carefully crafted a tweet only to realise it's too long and you need to use more text-speak than a teenager does? Now you will be able to give proper justice to the Queen's English when it comes to words such as 'Thanks' (instead of 'Thnks') or 'Address' (instead of 'addy'). Abbreveations are still useful, but sometimes using the proper word is better for your brand
  • Reply to questions more easily - if you get lots of questions via Twitter, you might find you need to send multiple tweet replies, but these changes mean you may be able to answer something with less tweets
  • Resurface your previous tweets - you will be able to bring old tweets back to life again by using the Retweet button or Quote Tweet functionality. This will allow you to resurface any tweets that you feel should be revived with a different angle or comment at the click of a button

Despite some of the recent negativity that Twitter has received from certain quarters around it's uselfulness, there is no doubt that for most businesses Twitter offers a platform that can improve your communication with your customers. Moreover, it remains a powerful tool to drive engagement, traffic and measureable results.

If you would like to learn more about these changes or get advice on how we can help you achieve your business objectives with Twitter then please do get in touch.