One of the most central elements of Twitter’s brand DNA and sheer personality has always been its text limit of 140-characters. That was part of its original draw. You get just 140 characters to express yourself, however you want to express it, in whatever language. Just as long as you keep it at 140. This limit was a sort of creative challenge Twitter had made to the public. And the public responded.
It’s been this way since the company was founded 10 years ago. Until now. Twitter’s Jack Dorsey confirmed last week his intention of expanding Twitter’s limit on text from the current 140 characters to potentially 10,000 characters. He demonstrated his point by posting a screenshot of a 1,325-character text. Internally Twitter has seen a trend among its user base of people already using lengthy messages by simply embedding screenshots of long texts inside their posts. So Twitter would just be giving people what they want right?
One camp of people believes that Twitter should stay true to its ethos and keep its 140 character limit. This is what the brand is about. Restrictions on the length of texts instigates brevity and creativity. It’s like a client telling you to create an amazing, impactful poster, but instead using 4 colors, you can only use black and white. Deal with it and get creative.
Another camp of people feel that Twitter is losing ground and needs to do something to stimulate the product. The move to long-form content could be that something. In 2014, LinkedIn jumped in with LinkedIn Pulse, where they basically opened up their publishing platform to the public to empower their users to start developing long-form content. Facebook has also gotten aggressively into long-form content by giving its users the tools and tips to develop rich, engaging, visual long-form content that really speaks to a specific audience, whoever that audience is.
SERPIQ did a study around content length trying to find out how many words get the most clicks, reads and shares. The study, contrary to what many believe, revealed that articles that were over 2,000 words tended to get the best response from people.
From a media perspective I believe this is positive news. Twitter has a unique audience and brands use them in interesting ways, beyond what Facebook is used for. These brands would now be able to tell more richer and fuller stories given this move to long-form, beyond anything they could be doing within 140 characters.
And this would also impact users and brands in Asia. Currently Australia, India and Japan are listed within the top 10 in terms of most Twitter users, so expect to see a bigger impact among these markets.
Weibo is the Twitter of China and similar to the actual Twitter, they also have a 140-character limit. However, no recent mention was made from them around extending their content limits. But only time will tell.
Finally, in terms of timing, Twitter did not indicate any dates on when this might get rolled out, but keep posted!