More Room to Tweet: Twitter Loosens Character Count Restrictions

twitter loosens character count restrictionsTwitter recently made good on a long-standing promise to loosen the restrictions on its 140-character Tweets. On September 19, the social network officially made the change, which allows users to upload media to their Tweets without it counting toward the character limit.

Don’t expect this to shake things up too much. The network remains true to its ‘short-and-sweet’ approach toward social media. A 140-character limit for text and links stands. However, it will give businesses more freedom to create posts that support their marketing goals through a winning combination of text, visuals, hashtags and @mentions.

Let them upload visual media!

The 140-character allowance will no longer tick down when you add visual media such as:

  • Images
  • Videos
  • GIFs
  • Polls

For context, attaching an image would cost 24 characters in the past, leaving you with 116 characters to create the post.

The other part of the change impacts user interactions. Without using up any characters, you can also:

  • Quote a Tweet
  • Reply to a post – The @username is now baked into the reply function

Given that usernames can be a maximum of 15 characters (@usernamespaces), this change will potentially save you 17 characters including the @ symbol and the space after the name. The Quote Tweet feature previously deducted 24 characters from the total.

More characters for better messaging

At first blush, these changes might seem insignificant. Social media marketers will get a few additional characters here and there. In practice, those extras can make a significant impact when you’re trying to relay a (potentially) nuanced message in 140-characters or less.

“One of the things we were hearing from [users] was that it was a frustration when a video or a photo or a GIF, or a handle in a reply was taking up some of their 140 characters. Because they’re not part of the narrative of the tweet, they’re just an attachment, we thought we could remove that,” Twitter’s UK managing director, Dara Nasr, told WIRED.

This isn’t necessarily breaking news about social media marketing. Twitter announced these changes last May and has given its developer community the summer to prepare for the recent launch.

Here’s why it’s good for marketers

1. It leaves room for more creative freedom

Now, you don’t have to make a choice between adding a picture, or writing a catchy caption, or using hashtags, or @mentioning your brand in a Tweet. You can now do them all – as long as you remain within the 140-character limit – and feel certain that each piece of content you share packs the maximum marketing value.

2. It lets you put best practices into action

You know you should use visuals in social media marketing. A study by Stone Temple Consulting shows exactly why. By adding images to posts, the average Twitter user will get:

  • 4X to 12X as many Favorites
  • 5X to 9X as many Retweets

Now that videos, images, and GIFs don’t take away from the amount of copy you can include in each post, you have more room to include high-value images to your content. It could be the variable that moves the needle on your social media marketing results.

3. It helps you maintain your professional image

There’s nothing worse than penning the perfect Tweet to go with a custom image, and then realizing you’re over character count. It’s a painful process to trim out articles and punctuation, making slang-y substitutions like “U” for “you” or “4” instead of “for” in an effort to get below the 140-character limit. Having a few more characters to play with can go a long way toward making fewer grammatical sacrifices and maintaining a professional image.

4. It allows for more concise customer care

Without tacking on the extra @username characters at the start of every reply, brands can cut back on the number of posts it takes to provide a thorough response to a customer service question. An extra 24 characters “Is this many characters!” and means fewer hard-to-follow threads that go on for several messages.

These changes are good news for businesses that use Twitter to reach their target audiences. They open the door for more effective social media messaging that gets followers excited about your business.

Do you have questions about how to use Twitter and other social networks to drive traffic to your website and generate more sales? Our social media experts can walk you through some strategies and share examples that are proven to work.