On September 19th, Twitter officially changed the way they count content toward the 140 character limit. Now, instead of all of the content (GIFs, images, polls, etc.) counting toward the 140 character count, only the actual text is counted. They are going to be changing how “@” names are counted as well, but that didn’t make it into the most recent update.
The 140 character limit has been a key feature of Twitter since it was first launched. The reasoning behind it was so the messages could be shared by an SMS message and still allow a little bit of space for the user. Twitter users have found tricks to navigate around the limit by tweeting multiple posts in a row (Kanye is known for doing this-example below), and by typing a message into a separate app and then taking a screenshot to post it.
The new character extension will increase the ease of composing posts that are short, engaging, and meaningful. So, what does this mean from a marketing standpoint? How will the new character count modifications impact the way businesses can reach their audience?
The most important benefit that comes from the character modifications, is that users won’t have to decide between interactive media, and a meaningful message. They can have the best of both worlds. Rather than having to decide between using an image to accompany a tweet, and having a more targeted and meaningful messages, the user can have both. It is a positive thing to include interactive media, because it is more engaging for followers, and it helps to create a more relational bond. For example, if a company wants to do a giveaway to engage with consumers, they can write a tweet that promotes the giveaway, include a photo of the items being given away, and include hashtags that will bring awareness to more people. Before the extension, they wouldn’t be able to do it all since images counted toward 22 of the available characters.
Additionally, the content itself can be more targeted to reach a wider audience. As a result of the extension, Twitter users will have more freedom to be able to connect with their followers in a more intimate way. For example, if a company wants to share a pointed question that includes a poll they can make sure the question makes sense since they won’t have to shorten the text content to accommodate the poll.
The 140 character limit is a good thing. It allows for more rapid posts and responses. It forces people to be creative and thoughtful about what they share. Additionally, people are more willing to read a microblog as opposed to a full length blog due to the time it saves. The extension is making it easier for Twitter users to utilize the 140 characters in the best way possible, but it still preserves the microblog culture.
What do you think of Twitter’s new modifications? How do you think it will benefit marketers?