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Twitter Trials 280 Character Limit

Sam Rose's picture

Picture this: You compose a tweet, watching the character counter go down as you type. Your message gets longer, the character counter goes to zero, then into minus figures. The text now turns red as you type. You’re finished, but your tweet is too long. You need to delete something. De-compose your tweet, if you like.

You fiddle about with rewording your sentences. Maybe delete a word, maybe replace another word with a shorter one. Remove that last full stop at the end of your tweet. Get rid of a comma. The counter goes back up to zero. Finished. It isn’t quite what you wanted to say, but it will do. Press the ‘tweet’ button.

If the above scenario sounds familiar, you may be pleased to know that Twitter has doubled the character limit for some users. A select few can now tweet up to 280 characters instead of the original 140.

It isn’t yet clear whether this change will be rolled out to everyone, or when that might happen. But for those who are sticklers for grammar and have a lot to say, this is good news. And many businesses may be happy with this change, too. Every aspect of a company’s online presence is important, and this includes social media sites. The language and tone used in tweets speaks volumes about a business’s attitude and professionalism. Some companies might have a more casual tone, due to their target market for example, but generally speaking everyone should be using perfect spelling and grammar – anything less looks sloppy and careless. So when tweets exceed the 140 character limit, leaving out punctuation or shortening words isn’t ideal. Even if you don’t need to resort to incorrect grammar, you might feel forced to use a shorter word or phrase that doesn’t quite convey your intended meaning. With that in mind, and more space now being available for our tweets, everyone should be happy about the increased character limit, right? Not necessarily.

Some Twitter users argue that the character limit is the least of the platform’s problems. What about spam? Abuse? Racism? Bots? (Though some bots are quite good, actually.) Others lament the change and think that in doubling the character limit, Twitter is robbing itself of the brevity that makes it unique. But having 280 characters at our disposal doesn’t mean we have to use every single one. Users could still aim to keep their tweets short and sweet, and if they go over 140 characters, now it’s no big deal.

For tweets that go over 280 characters, you can try to cut them down, start a thread of multiple tweets, or type up the whole thing and then tweet a screenshot of your typed paragraph. Or you could write a blog post and tweet out the link along with a quick summary. You can already say quite a bit with 140 characters if you’re creative. The difference is now you might get a little more breathing space.