Twitter Eases 140 Character Limit, Creating Increased Flexibility

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By Vlad Vidaeff

Twitter has been a frequent subject of our weekly blog and this comes as no surprise due to the frequent changes and additions the social media giant has been making in hopes of turning the company around.  One of the most frustrating aspects of composing a tweet has been the effect that links, photos, videos, and GIFs have on the character limit.  Previously, adding multimedia content took a chunk out of your 140-character limit which made it more difficult to get your message across even though your tweet would be more visually appealing.  This blog will explore the easing of the character limit that now makes it easier to simultaneously create visually appealing posts without sacrificing your headline.

Twitter’s stringent rules, ironically, have made the platform unique while also being contributing factors to the company’s recent struggles.  To enhance the user experience, links, photos, videos, and GIFs will no longer count towards the 140-character limit.  As a result, users can now post longer messages while still using interactive content.  This is certainly a welcome addition, as given the complexity of a particular tweet, it was sometimes a challenge to be brief enough to get a coherent message across while also using multimedia content.  The dilemma of crafting a rich headline without multimedia content or creating a visually appealing post with a potentially incomplete headline will now be less of an occurrence.  This is a win-win for Twitter as it adds flexibility to the user experience without changing the brand in such a way that it would upset longstanding users.

Relaxing the character limit will encourage use and sharing of pictures, videos, and links which capitalizes on the trend towards visually appealing content.  Social media marketers are now expected to engage in content creation rather than simply relying on sharing content.  Even social media platforms that are growing substantially, such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest all place a prime emphasis on visual content.  There is a distinction, however, in regards to the use of @usernames in a tweet.  If you reply to a tweet, so that the person’s username appears at the beginning of your tweet, this will not count towards the character limit.  If you mention someone, or multiple users, in the body of your tweet, this will count towards the character limit.

In a slightly different update, you will now have the ability to retweet and quote yourself.  This gives you the opportunity to highlight memories and retweet interesting discussions for refreshed conversations.  This is similar to liking your own status on Facebook which has a negative perception.  Experienced social media users will likely view this new feature from Twitter in the same way: an addition that appeals to those narcissistic, ego-driven individuals.  With that being said, there may be a limited number of situations where retweeting yourself may be appropriate.

While the relaxation of the character limit is not a significant change, it is a welcome one.  If Twitter continues to make progressive changes, the cumulative effect of these minor additions will help put Twitter back along the right path.


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