Twitter has announced that it is relaxing its long-standing 140 character limit, in a move which it claims will give both users and brands more space to “express themselves”. When the changes go live, at some point in the coming months (Twitter has been fairly non-committal on a date), Twitter handles and media attachments, such as polls, videos, GIF's and photos, will no longer count towards the 140 character limit. The intention is to prevent some of the more functional elements of Twitter, such as handles and links, from influencing the creative in a tweet.
More engaging social content
Over the past decade, the sort of content that is delivered with just a single tweet has changed dramatically. The humble tweet has evolved from a simple 140-character text message and become, what one Twitter source has described as, “a rich canvas for creative expression featuring photos, videos, hashtags, Vines, and more”. Those multimedia elements have historically taken up space within the 140 character limit, and Twitter believes that this is potentially stifling the creativity that publishers put into their content. The changes should address this whilst, at the same time, ensure that Twitter retains the sort of environment that its hard-core users know and love.
Better customer service
Twitter knows that for many of its brand users, that it is a key channel for customer service and engagement. The new change will undoubtedly make it that little bit easier for brands to resolve user queries with a single Tweet. With most messages in a customer service context addressed to an individual user handle, removing this handle from the message should free up some valuable characters. This should reduce the need, where appropriate, for brands to send multiple tweets, or to direct customers to an alternative channel – a big bug-bear for customers using social media.
More compliant promotions
For those brands that are subjected to various regulations on social media communications, this change should be seen as a positive move. With potentially more text to play with, and media elements such as images not counting towards the character count, it becomes easier for brands to include necessary compliance features, such as T&Cs, risk warnings or financial declarations.