What does Twitter’s doubling of the 140-character limit mean for advertisers?
The expansion of the microblogging site’s longtime limit to 280 characters is designed to encourage more tweeting, the company said. “Our research shows us that the character limit is a major cause of frustration for people tweeting in English,” a blog post on the company’s site explained. “Also, in all markets, when people don’t have to cram their thoughts into 140 characters and actually have some to spare, we see more people tweeting.”
Founder Jack Dorsey added that the decision to limit tweets to 140 characters was “an arbitrary choice” based on the 160-character limit found in SMS messaging at the time. The company has previously attempted to expand content by allowing users to post photos, videos, GIFs and handles (@username, for example) without counting them against the overall character limit.
The switch will begin with tests of small groups around the world (with the exception of languages such as Japanese, Korean and Chinese). Twitter did not announce how or when the increase will roll out for all users.
For advertisers, the longer format could offer some positive changes. It provides additional space for advertising opportunities and could ease concerns about legal issues, with more room to fit in necessary disclosures for prescription drugs or endorsements—perhaps helping avoid lawsuits such as Olivia Spencer’s action against Sensa about the use of “#spon” in her promoted tweets—and allow for more detailed customer service explanations.
On the other hand, more space means more room to make mistakes, such as copyright violations, or to engage in Twibel, also known as libel on Twitter. Some in the industry disputed the idea that a higher character limit would encourage tweeting and think that it may actually have the opposite effect.
To read the blog post announcing the change, click here.
Why it matters: For 11 years, the 140-character limit has been one of the major characteristics—if not the single most defining characteristic—of Twitter. The impact of the increase on advertisers and tweeting in general remains to be seen.