Twitter #280: Just Because You Can Does It Mean You Should?

If you are a Twitter user you will know all about the platform’s newly expanded 280 character limit. The reason behind this change, according to the company, is the 140 character limits of the tweet was drastically affecting those tweeting in some specific languages like English, Spanish, French in comparison to those tweeting in Japanese, Chinese and Korean.

I’ve been letting myself get used to the newly expanded character feature before making any comments on it. Now I’ve had time to become accustomed to it, I welcome the extra space to expand on a comment. But I can’t help feeling that some of the character of what made Twitter unique is lost. The writer J.K. Rowling certainly thinks this is the case.

There was a beautiful art to condensing your thoughts into 140 characters and for grammar nerds among us, the added challenge of keeping it grammatically correct within those constraints.

Lance Ullanof writing for Mashable put it this way:

There were times over the last decade where I wished I had just one more tweet character, let alone another 140, but in those times, I usually took a deep breath and dove back into my tweet, hacking away at needless words and replacing “ands” with plus signs. There was always a way to get my point across in 140 characters. And if I failed, it was my failure, not the system’s.

Reading through my Twitter timeline now, I find myself much slowed down and share John Gruber’s concern that “Given 280 characters, people are going to use them, even to express thoughts that could have fit in 140.”

Just because you can go over 140 characters, doesn’t mean you have to use all 280 characters.

Bigger isn’t always better. According to Top Rank: “If brands simply take this opportunity to double down on their promotional messaging or stack hashtags, it’s not going to create a better experience for users.”

One of the imperatives for online writing is to keep blocks of text in short, digestible chunks so that scanning readers won’t gloss over them. Top Rank share a super example from Hootsuite to illustrate this point.

Overall I welcome the opportunity to add more context and depth to my tweets. I can now pull a quote from an article I’ve written to generate interest and include a more robust description of its content.

How about you? Do you welcome this change? How do you plan to make more use of your Twitter real estate?

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