Making the most of 280 characters

And what do you think of it so far? Twitter’s big change of 2017 – the doubling of the tweet character limit from 140 to 280 received a mixed initial reception from Twitter users.

The Twitter poll with the largest number of respondents showed almost three-quarters of respondents preferring the traditional 140 characters, but with a sizeable minority of 27% liking the new Twitter.

A bit of back story

Hints and rumours preceded the character limit doubling for not months but years, suggesting that Twitter's own research was yielding ambivalent data: the 140 limit was a Twitter 'thing' and one that was working well in many ways.

Marketing and selling

Is 280 going to give benefits for marketing and selling?

Firstly an immediate win is the filling out of discussion and conversation in Twitter replies, there is no doubt that improvements in both quality and depth of dialogue were noticeable within days of the change rolling out.

Less of an obvious win is automatic use of 280 characters. For scrolling users, having to read twice as much may be a disincentive to engage with the written content after first seeing an accompanying graphic or image.

Low voltage, low interest messages seem unlikely to benefit at all from writing more rather than less.

Best opportunity

For strong stories there is definite advantage, roughly going from a potential 20 words to 40 words allows for a three sentence structure of headline, main story sentence and concluding back up sentence. In addition, the pressure to abbreviate with inelegant twitteresque shorthand tricks is reduced making for better communication generally.

Where the content is strong enough and with a good picture to hang it on the new limit is a great social media marketing opportunity. The expert approach is likely to develop as a twin-track social media writing methodology; keeping it short in general and only expanding when the content especially justifies the extra reading time.