Twitter modified how content is counted toward the 140 character limit: What does it mean for you?

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.

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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?

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Author: hannahbakeryoung

I am an IMC grad student at West Virginia University.

5 thoughts on “Twitter modified how content is counted toward the 140 character limit: What does it mean for you?”

  1. I think the modification was a great idea. As an avid Twitter users there is nothing more annoying the trying to post multimedia content with a tweet and seeing “-xx” in red. With the extension Twitter has allowed the platform to become more interactive and more media rich. Now, as long as Twitter doesn’t allow actual text to extend past 140 character I’m fine.

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    1. I agree with you! It is so frustrating to have to compromise content, because there isn’t enough space to include all of the necessary information. I have a feeling they will eventually extend the character count further, but the most recent modifications seem to have been good enough for now. I hope they don’t extend it too much though, because lengthening posts too much will cause the platform to lose the thing that makes it special.

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  2. I’m torn about this change. I enjoy the challenge of crafting a meaningful message with only 140 characters. I think it’s often more difficult to craft a concise marketing message and that often results in a stronger message. I enjoy watching the creativity. About a year ago, an agency invited applicants for a job via Twitter only. Candidates had 140 characters to entice the agency to invite them for an interview. Imagine applying for a job in 140 characters. How do you grab a hiring manager’s attention in so little space?

    Twitter already increased the amount of text per Tweet when added the quote feature to retweets. Do you think Tweets will continue to get longer? Do you think we’ll continue to see Twitter extending the number of characters?

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    1. Wow, it would be so challenging to only have 140 characters to make a positive impression on a potential employer. I do think Twitter will continue to expand the character count, but only in ways that allow users to get the most out of the platform. It would be a shame to see the character count extend too much, because it would lead to Twitter losing its primary purpose. I trust that they want to make the platform as efficient as possible.

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  3. I think some people would benefit from it–like you said, more meaningful marketing storytelling campaigns–but most companies have adapted to this micro-blogging format like champions (in fact, some master the shortest tweets possible!). The cool thing about is that the pictures and added media won’t take any added space, like you said. The links also have become automatically shorter (good grief!).
    Thanks for posting,
    Julieta

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