Late in 2017, Twitter updated the character limit on its tweets. The popular social media platform increased the number of characters for users from 140 to 280 – a move that is both criticized and praised by Twitter’s loyal following.
Over a year later, this change has us wondering – are the extra 140 characters actually making a difference?
Twitter’s most defining feature has long been its limited character count. Many people believed that the lengthy tweets would turn its timelines into undecipherable streams of information and words, while others were excited about the new possibilities.
Is the 280-character format impacting our Twitter timelines, and does your company need to take note?
The 280-Character Impact and Twitter’s Strategy
As it turns out, Twitter’s update hasn’t changed much with how people interact and use the platform, according to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. In early February 2018, Dorsey stated on an earnings conference call that the length of the average tweet did not increase along with the character count.
Dorsey stated that one of the major reasoning for the change was that Twitter’s algorithms noticed that users would go to type a tweet, exceed the 140-character limit, attempt to edit their tweets to fit the limit, then give up and abandon the tweets altogether.
While many users take advantage of the additional leeway with the extra 140 characters, this does not mean that each tweet consistently hits 280.
Dorsey noticed that, since the implementation of the extra characters, the percentage of users who abandon tweets decreased significantly. In addition, Twitter’s overall platform engagement increased – win-win for the platform.
Bumping up the character limit obviously provided a sense of relief to Twitter’s millions of users. As a result, they can enjoy and use the service at their leisure. The company notes that the average tweet remains fewer than 50 characters, protecting the brevity that Twitter users know and love.
Twitter Character Limit Statistics
After the length update, only 1% of tweets hit the 280-character limit. In contrast, 9% of tweets hit the 140-character limit prior to the update. Only 12% of tweets are longer than the original 140-character limit. Only 5% of tweets exceed 150 characters.
Twitter users value brevity and the platform has long encouraged people to reduce their thoughts to fit its box, which explains why fewer people are inclined to suddenly increase their character count with their newfound freedom.
When Twitter only allowed 140 characters in its tweets, the common length of the average tweet was 34 characters. With the 280 characters, the common length of the average tweet is 33 characters.
In addition, fewer people are using “text-speak” in their tweets, such as “sry” (decreased by 36%), “b4” (decreased by 13%) and “gr8” (decreased by 36%). In addition, certain words and characters have increased since the update:
• “Great” by 32%
• “Before” by 70%
• “Sorry” by 31%
• “Please” by 54%
• “Thank you” by 22%
• “?” by 30%
Sometimes, you just need a little bit of room to add an extra period or a quick thought. The extra 140 definitely did not break Twitter’s platform – in fact, it’s helping the platform to grow and keeping users engaged.
What Is Bad Twitter Engagement?
Many business owners fail to recognize the importance of Twitter when it comes to customer and client engagement. That’s because building and sustaining a good Twitter presence can be enormously difficult.
Honesty, transparency, and loudness are key characteristics of the unique Twitter platform. However, this does not translate well into business-speak.
As a company, you engage your potential client base with certain messages and images tailored to your specific brand. Speaking with your Twitter followers human-to-human is hard to accomplish because, well… you’re not representing a human.
You can get lots of clicks on Facebook with a good headline and a compelling image, but Twitter users do not engage with the same type of copy at the same rate.
Instagram tactics also do not translate well to Twitter, since Instagram is very image-based while Twitter requires some more words.
Companies need to put more effort into their Twitter strategy for a number of reasons:
• Twitter users are typically higher income than other social media platforms, according to Pew Research.
• Twitter users are more likely to buy products from the companies they follow on the platform than other social media users.
• Twitter users search more than 2 million times per day for different keywords; when it comes to companies, they’re looking for what people are saying about you and especially your products or services.
Twitter is worth the investment, but requires a different strategy than you would implement on other sites. With more people sending tweets and using the platform daily due to its increased character length, it is a very lucrative marketing platform for your company.
In order to run a successful Twitter presence, it’s important to understand the best practices of the platform and fully implement them.
Best Practice #1: Be Creative
Image, headline, and post copy are boring and trite on Twitter. Everything looks the same when you and a dozen other companies are following the same strategy. Twitter users want something new and refreshing on the timeline.
Find your own unique voice before creating your Twitter account.
Check out the accounts of companies such as Denny’s, MoonPie, or Wendy’s. Each one writes tweets with a unique, delightfully strange voice, from Denny’s oddball memes to Wendy’s sassy comebacks. Brainstorm and find some fun ideas for your company.
We have updated our MoonPie policy pic.twitter.com/rloc2WdCcG
— MoonPie (@MoonPie) May 25, 2018
Best Practice #2: Don’t Be Afraid to Have Fun
Twitter is a fun platform, sharing thousands of memes, funny videos, and pictures every day. Don’t be afraid to join the fun by posting your own memes, videos, and pictures. Just make sure they’re up-to-date!
You can also join in conversations with other companies on the platform. While fighting with other companies may not be appropriate for the Facebook crowd, Twitter users love it when companies riff with each other.
Take Wendy’s again – everyone from McDonald’s and Burger King to IHOP has felt the sass of this iconic account, and their comeback tweets regularly average hundreds of thousands of likes and retweets.
Best Practice #3: Take Advantage of Current Trends
Social media is constantly evolving and changing with new humor, current events, and popular culture. You don’t want to be the company who uses a dead tweet format to send a message – the users will have a field day making fun of you.
It’s vital to keep up with current happenings and take advantage of an opportunity when you see it.
For example, take the story of Budweiser and the beer girl. A viral video emerged in summer 2018 of a girl at a San Diego Padres game catching a foul ball in her beer cup.
She chugged the drink while others cheered and the video quickly made the rounds on social media – and Budweiser decided to chime in.
They offered to pay for the girl’s tickets to the next Padres game. Their response tweet received over 50 times the average likes of their other tweets, increasing their exposure and taking advantage of a current moment.
Best Practice #4: Be Human
What do all of these strategies have in common? Creativity, engaging with current trends, and having fun are all characteristics of an average Twitter user – an average human Twitter user.
One of the best strategies for Twitter engagement success is to drop the corporate facade and have a bit of fun, just like anyone else.