As of early November, Twitter’s long-anticipated move to 280 characters was rolling out to all users in supported languages. The move was first reported in September, and could have a reasonable effect on internet marketing experts everywhere.
The expansion was originally available to a select group of users for a trial, after which Twitter moved the upgrade to a permanent place. Let’s look at some of the details behind the switch, and how it might affect online marketing efforts.
At the time of the original announcement, Twitter cited data that referenced character constraints for certain users, depending on language. They noted how users who tweeted in languages like Japanese, Korean and Chinese were able to express about double the information in a single character as other users who tweeted in English, Spanish, Portuguese or French.
For this reason, Twitter determined that the expansion would roll out to the languages that were negatively affected by this “cramming,” as they put it. So all languages but Japanese, Chinese and Korean were part of the test period.
Due to Twitter being ultimately defined by their brevity for many people, the move was met with controversy. Some argued that it would make Twitter less readable, and others hypothesized that Twitter focusing on a feature like this – which very few were clamoring for – was really just diverting attention from more important issues like rampant abuse, harassment and bullying.
Further, some argued that the expansion won’t really allow users to express themselves more effectively. The user base is somewhat split, though media – one of Twitter’s largest bases – is firmly in favor of the feature. Negative sentiment has been slowly decreasing since September.
After the novelty of 280 characters wore off, Twitter said that people sent only 5 percent of their tweets with more than the original 140 characters, and only 2 percent over 190 characters. Many of the goofy tweets people sent initially were only temporary. Only 1 percent of tweets hit the character limit after the expansion, compared to 9 percent with 140 characters. In the end, most believe that engagement is what’s driving this decision.
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