September 27, 2017: Twitter’s announcement Tuesday night that it was experimentally upping its 140 character limit to 280 characters prompted much speculation about what this change means to the future of the service and how it will impact the jobs of social media marketers, managers, and influencers active on the service.
Didit CEO Kevin Lee commented that currently “many advertisers aren’t comfortable boiling their messages to the bare minimum,” and predicted that Twitter’s new character limit will give advertisers greater flexibility to message. This may ultimately help to boost Twitter’s anemic advertising revenues, which have taken a hit in 2017 even as rival Facebook’s ad revenue continues to rise.
Without the 140-character limit, marketers may quickly lapse into lazy, rambling, adjective-laden prose that fails to resonate with audiences
Twitter’s change will also presumably make the lives of social media managers easier, given that when scheduling posts for multi-network social blasts, they must routinely create two sets of messages — an abbreviated 140-character string for Twitter, and a longer text string for Facebook.
How this change will affect the actual quality of content on Twitter can’t be known at this point. One major benefit of Twitter’s old hard 140-character limit is that it forced marketers and influencers to create tight, focused messages and explicit calls to action, a modern manifestation of the established creative principle that “limits set you free.” Without these limits, marketers may quickly lapse into lazy, rambling, adjective-laden prose that fails to resonate with their target audiences.
Another longer-term risk for Twitter, is that by removing one of the most established, distinctive feature of its service, its differentiation against Facebook – already blurred by Twitter’s very Facebook-like visual presentation — may be further weakened in the minds of users. One can even speculate that a competing short-form messaging network — retaining the 140-character limit — might be launched against Twitter to specifically cater to the needs of the millions of users who’ve grown happy using Twitter’s tried and true short-form format and don’t see any reason to change it.
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