Frontline Marketing

Twitter Doubled Its Character Limit—Here’s How Brands Are Using It

See saw of character comparison and twitter bird

By | November 8, 2017 |

After a limited roll-out in September, Twitter has now officially doubled the character limit for Tweets in most languages. Space-saving languages such as Japanese, Korean and Chinese will retain the classic 140-character aesthetic, however, due to “cramming” not being nearly as much of an issue.

The move is an effort to address issues of “cramming” for English-language Twitter users, where a significant amount of users hitting the character limit when Tweeting. “This reflects the challenge of fitting a thought into a Tweet,” writes Aliza Rosen, Twitter’s product manager, “often resulting in lots of time spent editing and even at times abandoning Tweets before sending.”

According to Twitter’s analytics, the longer character count has solved the problem, with just 1 percent of 280-character Tweets hitting the character limit, down from 9 percent of 140-character Tweets.

However, the Twitter community at large has been less than receptive, expressing fears that the new longer character limit will dilute Twitter’s trademark pithiness and brevity, exemplified by Brian Barone’s markup of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s original announcement:

Rosen addresses user fears outright in her blog post. “We–and many of you–were concerned that timelines may fill up with 280 character Tweets, and people with the new limit would always use up the whole space,” she writes.

However, Twitter’s data indicates that this won’t be nearly as large of a problem as some users fear. “Only 5% of Tweets sent were longer than 140 characters and only 2% were over 190 characters,” the blog post reads. “As a result, your timeline reading experience should not substantially change.”

So far, Tweets under the trending hashtag #280characters have fallen into three major buckets: users testing out the feature for the first time, users complaining about not getting an edit button, and, most of all, users reacting to the first two groups with gifs.

(Editor’s Note: We’ll be tracking how brands are taking advantage of longer Tweets. Stay tuned.)

Several brands have sided with the 140-character Luddites, citing traditional values and the futility of ever capturing their qualities, no matter the character limit.

Nesquik also complained, but for different reasons.

Archie Comics got straight to the point.

Spotify used the longer limit to give their fans a challenge.

Twitter’s update has caused some internal existential conflict for McDonalds.

Discord used the update to give Twitter users a valuable public service announcement.

Other brands just couldn’t contain their excitement about things like space. And socks.

Sometimes, on very rare occasions, brands used the longer limit without calling attention to it.