Do Tweets Really Need More Than 140 Characters?

TWITTER NEWS FLASH! We can now add media (that’s pics, GIFs, videos, polls, etc.) with no character penalty! But now the questions stands: Do we really need more than 140 characters for tweets to get our point across?

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Twitter built its social media presence (ok, it’s really a microblogging platform) around its infamous 140-character limit. This made the blue bird stand out back in the day of LiveJournal entries and long Facebook posts on someone’s wall.

Ah, the days of “The Facebook” when it was just for college kids…

But a lot has changed in a decade, from how we use social media to how we communicate digitally. Many in the Twittersphere have been asking for more tweet characters.

And by many, I mean thousands upon thousands.

Think I’m kidding? Just search “more characters” in Twitter and click Live to see how often we’re talking about it. Or just click here.

After years of 140-character gripes, Twitter (finally) made a change. But is it what social media really needs?

In Case You Missed It

Twitter announced back in May that they plan to make some big changes to the characters in our tweets.

As of last week, they delivered on their promise.

Roger Rabbit GIF

Media attachments no longer eat up a tweet’s 140-character count. That means no character loss for adding a photo, GIF, video, poll or Quote Tweet to your tweet.

That’s right—you can media away without any character penalties.

(Twitter also announced that they also plan to eliminated @name replies from a tweet’s character count, but that hasn’t yet been rolled out. So I’ll blog about it when I see it.)

Why More Characters Is A Good Thing

Rhino Running with Bird GIF

At least once a week, I must make a difficult choice about how to abbreviate a tweet. It comes down to changing “sprint” to “run,” “your” to “ur” or removing my adorable rhino GIF as if it never existed.

Original tweet: Sprint like it’s your job.

Abbreviated tweet: Run like it’s ur job (no period intentional)

But look how cute this is! How can I sacrifice something this adorable from my tweet?

This is what happens when it’s essential to include a URL with the tweet, especially when many of us want to direct traffic to our website, blog or landing page. Since the URL is a must, we negotiate our grammar, syntax and / or pretty images.

Campfire Mocha via Cup O Joe

But we don’t want to sacrifice our media from our tweets, especially when tweets with visual eye candy get 94% more views than those that, well, don’t.

This is why I’m excited about this change. Now my cat memes or pics of my latest cup of coffee are no longer on the chopping block.

Good thing because I just tried this campfire mocha from the café down the street and it was delish!



Do We Really Need THAT Many Characters?

Some social media scheduling tools didn’t refresh their character count algorithms to match with the new Twitter change right away. So before you schedule your brilliant tweet, make sure the image isn’t eating up your characters.

But this let me see just how many more characters I get with the new change. On average, my images and GIFs take up about 15 characters.

On the surface, that doesn’t sound like much. But here’s what 15 characters looks like:

“Roger Rabbit is” or “A rhino sprints” or “campfire mocha”

Still doesn’t look like much. But in a 140-character Tweet, every letter and space counts.

That’s why I think it’s not quite enough.

Don’t mistake me. I love the art of microblogging. I don’t want Twitter to do away with its 140-character limit. I’m still annoyed that DMs don’t stick to the short limit, mostly because I really hate long, automated Twitter DMs.

New Structure of Tweets 2016 Graph

But characters should stick to the tweet. I still think URLs should count towards character count, but I’m looking forward to Twitter’s next phase of character condensing: Removing the @name reply characters from the 140 characters.

I want to know what you think. Do you think tweets need more than 140 characters? Share your opinions below.


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