November 15, 2017 Andrew Woodcock

What in the World are We Gonna Do with 280 Characters?

Are 280 Characters Too Many?

By Heather Murdick and Andrew Woodcock

If someone asked me what I think about when someone mentions Twitter, I know what I’d say: Trump tweets, controversy over fake accounts, and 140 characters. Well, as many of you already know, one of those things has changed in the last week.

On November 7, Twitter rolled out an update fundamentally changing a core, defining aspect of the social media platform. Tweets can now contain up to 280 characters—twice as much as before. This is great news, folks… Well, probably.

The update has received some mixed reviews. Some see it as an innovation, while others see it as useless. Despite the mixed reactions, however, this update can only be good in the long run—especially for marketing messages.

The Reactions

If you follow European soccer, you may be familiar with the German soccer club Borussia Mönchengladbach. If you’re familiar with ‘Gladbach, then you must also be familiar with the fact that that’s not even the longest a name can get.

Shortly after the update, ‘Gladbach showed their appreciation for the extra real estate Twitter gave them.

Parks and Recreation actor Ben Schwartz unleashed his nerdy side with his favorite number.

Others were shocked and dumbfounded, such as the publishing company Melville House. Not knowing what else to do, they used the new 280-character limit to express their frustration.

YouTuber Phillip DeFranco didn’t even need to use 140 characters to express his feelings on the matter.

And finally, the official Twitter handle for Law & Order: SVU took advantage of the new character limit to craft the greatest tweet ever tweeted in the history of Twitter.

The Pros and Cons

While humorous, these Twitter users actually bring up some good points about the new character limit. There’s a lot of potential, but also a lot of room for potential abuse.

On one hand, the new character limit allows users to share a longer, more complete message. It gives them more breathing room to get necessary and relevant information out in one tweet. So, unless you’re writing a whole novel on Twitter, there will be less instances of breaking up your message into numbered tweets. It also gives users the opportunity to include a larger quantity and longer hashtags.

On the other hand, the previous 140-character limit forced users to keep their messages shorter and therefore more precise and information-dense. Some people fear that the longer tweets will be skipped over; since people are so used to shorter tweets, they won’t have the time or attention span to read something twice that long. Others are complaining that alternative features or upgrades would have been more important, such as an edit button.

The Future

So, what happens next? Twitter culture is slowly going to change as a result of this update. People, news outlets, sports teams, etc. are going to tweet differently moving forward. More characters means more room for creativity, relevant information, wordplay, and EMOJIS. Only time will tell what Twitter will look like 6 months, 12 months and 24 months from now. Despite the reactionary backlash, we believe that only good can come out of this update in the long run. Selfishly, this update saves us time editing copy down to 140 characters (or less with links) to fit into our tweets!

What are your thoughts?


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