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Twitter Phone

It’s 280 characters for everybody, Twitter confirms

Twitter Phone

It’s 280 characters for everybody, Twitter confirms

Following a trial of allowing 280-character tweets among selected users, Twitter has confirmed that it is rolling the feature out to all English language users as of today.

The microblogging site introduced the character extension on a trial basis in September to address the fear that some users were regularly ‘cramming’ in order to fit their tweet into the traditional 140-character limit. It found that in languages like English that use the Western alphabet, around one in 11 (9%) tweets were exactly 140 characters long, suggesting that users were often truncating their tweets and a longer character limit might help them to express themselves more effectively.

Following the trial, the social media site has confirmed that it will be doubling the character limit for all users, with the exception of those who tweet in languages like Chinese, Korean and Japanese, where cramming is not an issue.

In a blog post yesterday, Twitter gave three main statistics suggesting the trial was a success.

The first was that cramming appeared to be much less of a problem under the trial. Whereas 9% of tweets composed under a 140-character limit hit the maximum, this was only the case with 1% of tweets once the limit had been doubled. Twitter has concluded that this indicates users are not spending as long editing and rewording their tweets to fit the limit, and that a higher character count gives them more freedom to tweet clearly and quickly.

The second point deals with a concern that Twitter may lose the brevity and punchiness that many users believe to be its best attribute, and that it may be more difficult to absorb tweets in a feed if they are all twice as long. However, Twitter has said that although the trialling users had 280 characters to play with, it wasn’t the case that they were always using their limit. In fact, its research found that 95% of tweets sent remained under 140 characters and 98% were composed within 190 characters. In the first few days of the trial, users were bashing out longer tweets as they enjoyed the novelty factor of the new limit, but users generally saw the extension as an option rather than a necessity.

Thirdly, the longer character limit seems to be helping engagement and user experience. Twitter says that those with the longer character limit enjoyed more interaction with their tweets, such as likes and retweets. It also claims that users have told them they feel better able to express themselves and find the best content with the character extension.

With the 280-character limit now available to everyone, now is the time for businesses to start thinking about whether they can double their social media interaction with double the character count.

John Murray
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