All Change at Twitter – Simplicity Lets Users Say More

Twitter is changing. The social network still limits users to 140 characters, but you’ll be able to fit a lot more meaning into the available space. They say the changes will let users, “Say more about what’s happening” by completely changing how Tweet limits work, removing images and other non-text content from the 140 character limit so there’s more clear space left for words. It means you’ll be able to include an image, poll, video or whatever in a Tweet, and still say 140 character’s worth of cool stuff.

As Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, said earlier this year, “This is the most notable change we’ve made in recent times around conversation in particular, and around giving people the full expressiveness of the 140 characters. I’m excited to see even more dialog because of this.”

Twitter currently has around 313 million active monthly users, while Facebook has 1.7 billion. Not that it matters, since the networks are very different animals, useful for different marketing purposes. But the word on the streets is Twitter is sailing close to the wind, struggling to attract new users, and these simplifications are designed to please a younger tranche of potential Tweeters.

Rumor has it that at one point Twitter was looking at making Tweets as long as 10,000 characters, a silly amount, but that idea seems to have been dropped. It’s good news because, from a graphic design and user experience perspective, the interface just isn’t suitable for very long messages. It was designed with brevity in mind. And, from a marketing perspective, hanging onto your USP tends to be a better idea than dropping it in an effort to become more like your competitors. That way magnolia lies, and the vibrant social media scene is no place for ‘me too’ brands.

If you’ve ever been frustrated trying to express yourself in very few words, it’s good news. If you’re confused by the changes, here they are in simple terms.

6 ways Tweeting has changed

  1. The character limit remains the same at 140
  2. Non-text content like videos, GIFs and images don’t count towards the total
  3. Links still count in the total
  4. Quoted tweets don’t count towards the 140
  5. @mentions in replies will no longer appear in Tweets and don’t count towards the 140
  6. When you mention a @username in a Tweet, it still counts toward your 140 characters… unless you’re replying to the @usernames and they’re auto-populated

Want to write long Tweets?

There are apps available to help you if you want to write longer Tweets than the 140 limit allows. Take Tall Tweets, for example, (talltweets.com/), which lets you Tweet essays, Word documents, press releases and all sorts of longer snippets of text, no limits.

Their ‘Tweetstorm’ format cuts long content into multiple tweets of 140 characters and automatically Tweets them in the right order. And the ‘Tweet Shots’ format converts rich text into an image then posts it in a Tweet.

It’s a nice idea. But because the Twitter interface isn’t designed for long messages, you need to take great care. Think about your audience and fellow users first. Will your Twitter community appreciate you jamming their stream with a long string of messages? Will your followers bother reading them all? Is the Tweet Shot image the app creates really a suitable way to put your message across? The answer depends on the message. Sometimes it’s going to be a resounding yes, other times a definite no.

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