Twitter went against tradition on Tuesday, Sept. 26 by testing a 280-character limit for users creating tweets.
According to Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chief executive, its current character limit of 140 characters was “an arbitrary choice based on the 160 character SMS limit” and now acts as a barrier that discourages users from tweeting more often.
Twitter has been criticized for slowed growth at 328 million users and an inability to attract more users, making investors nervous about the future of the platform.
In July, Twitter reported that its monthly active users in the U.S. have declined to 68 million. While it reported 69 dollars a share when it went public in 2013, Twitter is now trading shares at roughly $17 as of Wednesday, Sept. 27.
The platform has also experimented with longer character limits in the past, only to be met with backlash from users who have grown attached to the 140-character limit.
Despite this negative backlash, Twitter plans on moving forward with the 280-character limit.
“We understand since many of you have been tweeting for years, there may be an emotional attachment to 140 characters,” the company said in a report by the New York Times. “But we tried this, saw the power of what it will do, and fell in love with this new, still brief, constraint.”
According to Twitter, research has shown that languages that allow for more thought in fewer characters such as Korean, Japanese and Chinese message more frequently because they don’t reach the 140-character limit as often as users tweeting in other languages such as English.
The platform hopes to emulate these results with a 280-character limit so that users aren’t discouraged from tweeting more often due to character constraints requiring more time and revision for tweeting messages.
According to an article by NPR, Twitter says that “9 percent of tweets in English are exactly 140 characters; in Japanese, only 0.4 percent of tweets hit the limit. The company says hitting the limit is a major source of frustration for those tweeting in English.”
While the length of tweets may increase, Twitter believes that the brevity and getting straight to the point in tweets won’t change. Some users also believe that Twitter’s brand isn’t built on a 140-character limit, but rather the community of people who interact with one another on the platform, so doubling the character limit won’t make a negative impact.
The 280-character limit will be tested in small groups around the world and it’s uncertain whether the changes will be available to all Twitter users in the future. For Japanese, Chinese and Korean users the limit will still be 140 characters because users rarely reach the full character limit.
Author: Brandon Lazovic
Brandon Lazovic is a district digital manager at General Motors assisting a number of dealers in New Mexico and southern Colorado with website optimization, reputation management, content creation, CRM integration, social media promotion and search engine marketing. Before Lazovic began working at General Motors he collaborated with start up companies in Ann Arbor, Mich. to expand their businesses through digital marketing initiatives and previously served as the news editor for the Eastern Echo in 2016 and as a staff writer for the EMU media relations department in 2017.