September 28, 2016
For virtually as long as Twitter has been around, its devotees have been doomed to express everything that’s on their minds in 140-characters or less.
While this is one of the things so many people love about Twitter – its expediency and brevity – it’s also been a massive source of frustration for many users, enough that some people have migrated away from the platform for social sites that allow long-form content.
We recently received some big news that’s going to change the way you use Twitter forever: the 140-character limit is dead.
I know, I know: there’s been some rumbling about whether this was going to happen for months now but, on Sept. 19, Twitter officially announced that it would no longer count videos, polls, quoted tweets, or quotes against the 140-character limit.
While this change has some all aflutter, it’s being met with excitement throughout the marketing community in general.
Read on to learn more about this significant shift, and what it means for your online interactions.
Why Did Twitter Change the Character Limit?
First of all, let’s get one thing straight: Twitter hasn’t done away with its character limit altogether, it’s just stopped certain things from counting against it.
Before this change, adding a photo to your Tweet would eat up your available characters in a hurry. After the change, though, this type of media doesn’t impact your character count, which makes for longer, more engaging, more content-dense tweets.
Back in May, Twitter announced on its blog that it would roll something like this out in the coming months, saying that they wanted their users to “be able to do even more” on the platform. On Sept. 19, Twitter announced the full roll-out with a tweet.
Say more about what's happening! Rolling out now: photos, videos, GIFs, polls, and Quote Tweets no longer count toward your 140 characters. pic.twitter.com/I9pUC0NdZC
— Twitter (@twitter) September 19, 2016
Users responded favorably, and, although many are still calling for “edit” features, it’s clear that this move was a step by the company to start offering a more favorable, long-form, interactive platform for social sharing.
What has Changed in the Twitterverse?
The change includes media, retweets (although this update has yet to be fully rolled out), quotes, and replies. Here’s a basic breakdown of how each feature has shifted under the most recent update:
- Tweet replies: This is the one update of the package that’s not yet fully rolled out. When it is, though, every time you reply to a tweet the @Name portion of your response won’t count toward your character limit. Designed to help users have more in-depth conversations with one another, this is a welcome change.
- Media: Twitter’s character limit changes mean that any URL produced by attaching a photo, poll, quoted tweet or video won’t count toward your overall character limit. Keep in mind, though, that if you paste a URL inside the body of the tweet, it will count just like it always has.
- Retweets: Twitter announced back in May that it had plans to add a retweet button to your own tweets. This makes sharing your content more than once simple and allows you to re-broadcast your most popular tweets.
- Goodbye, @name: Today, tweets that start with a @name will reach all of your followers, not just the person to whom you’re replying. For even more exposure, just retweet your answers to make sure all of your followers have access to them.
5 Tips to Make Twitter’s Character Limit Change Work for You
Twitter’s character limit shifts mean big things for savvy marketers, and these five tips can help you get the most out of the new standards:
1. Pepper your tweets with quality visuals
While visual content has been exploding everywhere else in social media, it’s been a little tough to use on Twitter – until now. Since media attachments no longer count toward the 140-character limit, go crazy including videos and images. According to Twitter’s own research, adding a photo to your tweets can boost your retweet rate by 35%.
2. Stop using the @name convention to connect with your followers
Before Twitter rolled these changes out, the only way to reply directly to another user was to begin a Tweet with the @name convention.
Luckily, the recent changes mean that there’s no need to do that any longer. This makes the platform more streamlined and allows for conversations that are wider-reaching and easier to follow.
3. Dig deeper with your Twitter counterparts
While Twitter has had some rough patches over the last few years, it’s working hard to provide a quality platform where people can actually connect. The recent shifts in character limit are a step in the right direction.
Now that so many things don’t count toward your character limit, you can enjoy deeper, more in-depth conversations with your followers and counterparts, which leads to more productive relationships and a better online presence.
4. To popularize your content or create longer tweets, quote yourself
Quoting yourself is a great way to build a longer tweet. Since quoted tweets don’t count toward character limit, you can drastically expand your space with this simple trick.
5. Use multimedia to provide more information
Since things like @name no longer count toward the character limit, you can use all of your 140-characters to respond or reach out to another user, and then beef that response up with the help of a GIF or accompanying video.
Twitter’s Future Looks Bright!
Twitter has been through some growing pains in recent years, but the company’s recent character limit changes are nothing but good news for the platform itself, as well as its users.
In addition to allowing for more in-depth conversation, these shifts also remove some of Twitter’s most confusing features, and make the platform easier to interact with – and that’s a fantastic change for everyone! Now’s the time, more than ever, to start interacting on social media and up your game.
Julia McCoy is a top 30 content marketer and has been named an industry thought leader by several publications. She enjoys making the gray areas of content marketing clear with practical training, teaching, and systems. Her career in content marketing was completely self-taught. In 2011, she dropped out of college to follow her passion in writing, and since then grew her content agency, Express Writers, to thousands of worldwide clients from scratch. Julia is the author of two bestselling books on content marketing and copywriting, and is the host of The Write Podcast. Julia writes as a columnist on leading publications and certifies content strategists in her training course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia lives in Austin, Texas with her daughter, husband, and one fur baby.