Will Twitter’s 280-character count make a difference to SMEs?

Twitter's 280-character countLast November, the social media world shook in terror as Twitter’s 280-character count entered the scene. Some were happy, others outraged, but now the dust has settled we can see what’s changed.

So, will Twitter’s 280-character count help or hinder small businesses? You’ll have to stick with us to find out!

Why did Twitter increase its character count?

On 7 November 2017, Twitter doubled its character count from 140 to 280. This feature is available to all Twitter users, except for those tweeting in Chinese, Japanese and Korean because these languages don’t usually have to worry about cramming in characters.

This decision was made following a trial that took place in September. A handful of Twitter users (including myself!) were given the opportunity to try out the 280 character-limit before anyone else.

At first, many tweeted with the full 280-character count because it was new. Personally, I used as many characters as possible simply because I could (and it wound a few people up). However, after a while I got used this new feature and returned to around the 140-character mark. Before this test took place, 9% of tweets in English regularly hit the 140-character limit. However, once Twitter’s 280-character count was introduced, people tweeted “more easily and more often”. This was probably because the increase removed the frustration many had with Twitter as a platform.

Though many were outraged, this is the next logical step for Twitter. It had already stopped photos and retweets contributing to the character count, and this increase will simply encourage users to spend more time on the site and (hopefully) drive up engagement.

Why were people upset?

Many believed that by increasing the character count, Twitter was invalidating its own USP. JK Rowling was just one of the high-profile people who displayed their disgust:

*Tweet sourced from JK Rowling’s Twitter feed

And you know what, she’s right in a way. The whole point of Twitter was to get people to express their feelings in short snappy statements. Brevity was very important to this social media platform.

However, a few months on and users have embraced Twitter’s 280-character count. Despite this, many businesses are yet to use it to its full potential.

What does Twitter’s 280-character count mean for business?

Twitter’s 280-character count might not seem like a big deal, but there may be ramifications for SMEs. Here are the core pros and cons of the increased count:

Pros:

Firstly (and probably most obviously), Twitter’s 280-character count gives SMEs the opportunity to include more information in their tweets.

However, you must ensure you don’t just try to fill space. Everything you say must support or progress your point, otherwise it’s redundant and your readers won’t respond to it.

There is also more space for hashtags and mentions, so you can dramatically improve your targeting.

Text speak (“ppl”, “ur”, “idk”) can be really off-putting for a business audience. Twitter’s 280-character count eliminates the need for shortened words and acronyms, so makes it much easier to have a real conversation and connect with your audience.

Cons:

There are also a few negatives when it comes to Twitter’s 280-character count.

For example, doubling the number of characters means you’ll have a longer editing process. This could take up much more of your time (assuming of course you have any such quality processes in place).

Another con is that this change could cause followers to leave Twitter completely. The longer character limit now makes this platform very similar to Facebook, so people may leave as they’re both (largely) offering the same service.

Businesses must analyse follower behaviour to prevent this affecting their strategies. If your customers move to another platform, you should follow them. Try to keep a presence on Twitter, but really focus on the platforms where your audience is.

As you can see, there’s good and bad to this increase, but we still believe that Twitter’s 280-character count could be a positive change if used correctly. You might need to rethink your social media strategies, but don’t worry! We can always help with that.

Do you need some help crafting Twitter content? Talk to our experts for top-notch tailored advice.

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