Twitter has officially rolled out its new 280-character limit to all accounts. While this is a change no one asked for, especially since we’re still waiting on an edit button, Twitter feels that the change will revitalize its growth.
Twitter Project Manager Aliza Rosen blogged about the company’s test results. She writes that during the experiment: “Only 5% of Tweets sent were longer than 140 characters and only 2% were over 190 characters. As a result, your timeline reading experience should not substantially change, you’ll still see about the same amount of Tweets in your timeline. For reference, in the timeline, Tweets with an image or poll usually take up more space than a 190 character Tweet.”
Once the novelty passes, it sounds like doubling the character limit will have minimal effect on how users interact with Twitter. Twitter spent years cultivating a user experience based around the sharing of 140 character comments, so there was no reason for the company to think 280 characters would change anyone’s behavior. The increase simply cuts down on the number of people who realize that their tweet is 145 characters and now must be rephrased. If that alone was Twitters goal with the character increase, then that goal has been achieved.
However, comparing Tweets with an image to a 190 character Tweet is not a valid comparison. Even though they are both are Tweets, looking at a photo takes less time than reading 140 unnecessary characters. Most users aren’t concerned about the number of Tweets in their timeline, since you can scroll through the whole thing. They’re concerned that without the need to condense thoughts Tweets will become long winded and ruin what makes Twitter appealing.
Rosen also wrote that people who had more room to Tweet received more engagement and that being able to Tweet longer messages made users feel better with how they expressed themselves on Twitter, but didn’t reveal the figures proving engagement has increased and that longer Tweets makes people happier about their Twitter use.
In the end, the increased to 280 characters probably won’t make a difference. Twitter users will continue using the platform the way they always have and will simply appreciate not having to cut a word because it’s over 1 character. For all the commotion, Twitter will have simply gained some free publicity until people forget that 280 characters isn’t the game changer Twitter had hoped it would be.