Will another 140 characters make a difference?

How will the world react to Twitter doubling your tweet real estate

Twitter has now launched it’s 280 character expansion to the masses, so what does this mean for small businesses?
It’s quite hard to actually wrap my brain around, the character limit for Twitter has been 140 characters from the start so I’m actually struggling to write longer tweets! I was sitting in bed last night typing one up and I had totally forgotten about the change.
 
I got to the end and did my usual check to see home many characters I had left for some arbitrary hashtags and… my character count was gone! Replaced by an innocent looking circle.
Initially I was rather excited that I wasn’t so limited, but I ended up keeping it quite short and I don’t think I’m the only one. Although very early days Twitter are reporting that a mere 1% of its user base is getting anywhere close to the new #280characters limit.
 
It reminds me when Microsoft first allowed us to use longer filenames (yes I’m that old) and we all went crazy being able to call our word documents something really meaningful… how long did that last? For me it was about a week before I went back to using two or three words when I saved something, using more just seems too long winded and messy.

So how will this change the usage of Twitter?

Due to the fact I lack a crystal ball I can’t be sure, however there are a few possibilities. My first thought was “oh no, we’re now just going to see hashtag city every time we open the app,” it certainly wouldn’t be my favourite thing to see as we already get a lot of that over on Instagram, I mean if you’re not using 40 million hashtags (slight exaggeration) then you’re not doing it right.
 
The difference is Insta is image based, the text is secondary and quite well managed in terms of what you see as your browse. On Twitter however text has been the mainstay since its inception and we’re used to digesting short (out)bursts from people very quickly.
 
Since Twitter removed images from our character allowance it certainly has become more ‘multi-media’ and typically that’s how, as businesses, we try and catch people’s eye but could that all be about to change?
 
We could see a move to even more image use on Twitter and our timelines now getting far more like Instagram, would that be such a bad thing? Well I suppose it depends on who you follow.

Should you be maximising this new real estate?

To be honest, I wouldn’t really bother at this point. It will allow you to perhaps add a couple of extra hashtags to the end of your tweet to extend your reach but that’s probably about it. I don’t think it’s worth going through everything you’ve stored on MeetEdgar or HootSuite and add in extra ramblings for the sake of it.
 
The joy of Twitter was that everything was short and punchy and it really made you think about what you had to say to get it over fast. Don’t get me wrong, there have been a few occasions where I’ve had to go into “multiple-tweet mode” mostly in a response to a troll – I know I shouldn’t feed them but sometimes I can’t help myself.
 
Use this new-found freedom to give you that little extra room for links or an extra hashtag or two but don’t go mad. Keeping your message concise is still the best way to catch people’s attention and increase your chance of engagement.
Want to know if I can help your business with getting your business on to Twitter? Then get in touch and let’s see how good your hashtag skills are!

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