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Twitter’s 280 Characters and What it Means for Marketers

We are all used to regular and frequent updates from social channels such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. but Twitter? Well, the revised character limit for a tweet is Twitter’s second-biggest update in 12 months.

Around the same time in 2016, Twitter announced that images, GIFs, and videos will no longer account for the character count and boy, what a relief it was for social media marketers! It meant a little extra space for good content.

Two weeks ago Twitter released an update that now allows the Twittersphere to use up to 280 characters for a tweet. Is it a ‘Yaay’ or a ‘Naay’? Let’s find out.

Where did it all start?

Twitter has been seeing stiff competition from other social channels and found that the 140 character format could be limiting its users from using the social channel to express themselves completely. This is only fair because it can be frustrating for people who are trying to send across a message.

So, why did they start with 140 characters in the first place? It’s pretty simple. Text messages (which we used to communicate with people before things like social media happened) had a character limit of 160 characters. Twitter just followed suit.

Jack_CEO_Twiter_Character Count_SMhack

The reasoning

So, Twitter decided to test increasing the limit and see if it would make a difference for all languages except Japanese, Chinese, and Korean. You see, how tweets in English used up the characters quicker than the ones in Japanese?


The results

Well, to battle the frustration of cramming thoughts into 140-character long tweets, Twitter increased the character limit to 280. And the result looked positive enough for Twitter to roll this update out for all the users.

Twitter_Test_Results_280 Characters

Adoption and Impact

It gave most of us mixed feelings because we have always associated 140-character limit to Twitter and we have grown attached to it. Most people, including myself, were concerned that the timelines will soon be packed with longer tweets and people will quickly adapt to the change.

Well, that wasn’t how things turned out. Twitter reported that only ‘5% of the tweets sent were longer than 140 characters and only 2% were over 190 characters’. Now that wouldn’t affect our timelines like we thought it would.

Twitter also noted that this move allowed room for more content and people were able to express themselves better. This has increased the engagement for lengthier tweets, improved follower count, and got people to spend more time on Twitter.


There have been mixed responses from agencies and marketers on how this will impact their social media strategies. Many brands who are quite popular on Twitter for their tweets were worried that the increased character length might dilute the very essence of how Twitter functions.

Longer tweets might find it difficult to make it to the top of the news feed, thanks to Twitter’s algorithms being tested. It also has a few people wondering if this might reduce the number of times that people tweet as they will be able to pack more information in a single tweet. On the bright side, brands will be in a better position to offer solutions to customer issues in a more detailed manner.

What can you do with 280 characters?


But hey, this isn’t the end of the world, right? Brands will definitely find a way around the new update. Some of them have already indulged themselves in this 280 character craze. Here are a few ways in which you can leverage this as a social media marketer.

Convey More in Less Space

Less space — wasn’t this the problem that Twitter was trying to solve? Now, brands have more space to communicate more information. However, for a marketer, this doesn’t mean more space but less time spent on crafting messages.

Marketers would struggle to pack information in 140 tweets and this usually took a lot more time. However, this will not be the case with the increased space. This also allows you to accommodate more links in your tweets. Since the increased character limit is extended to promoted tweets as well, you can use it to your advantage when creating ad campaigns on Twitter. You can add more hashtags, disclaimers; you can also share longer quotes and ask longer questions, tag more accounts, etc.

All these will only add to the engagement level for your Twitter handle. It is also best to continue to keep that social media calendar of yours updated. Make sure you have your tweets scheduled ahead of time using a good social media publishing software.


Social customer care

Responding to customer complaints was difficult because you needed more than just 140 characters to successfully offer a solution. Most of the complaints were taken up as DM conversations or directed to support call centers. It was a challenge to deliver great customer experience in just 140 characters. This directly affected customer loyalty. However, the new update gives you more room to communicate effectively with customers.


Fewer threaded tweets

Lesser space resulted in longer conversations. Brands used multiple tweets to convey a single message. It can get frustrating for the reader or customer since they will have to go through longer threads to grasp the entire message that’s being conveyed.

This will change with the additional 140 characters; brands will be in a better position to provide great user experience. All the information can be packed in a single tweet, reducing the length of the conversation threads and customer frustration.

Pro tip

The reason for Twitter love is brevity of message that Brands attempt to convey. Though this is a huge change for Twitter, it will take time for people to adapt to it. It is best for you to keep your eyes and ears open on how people are responding to the change.


Whether you like the change or not that Twitter has brought in, you need to find ways in which you can leverage it. As mentioned, not everyone will like the change. However, Twitter expects that this will bring in more users — those who took the exit due to the 140 character limit, more brands will start exploring Twitter as a marketing platform, etc.

Do you like the 280 character limit? Have you tried tweeting lengthier content? What kind of response did you see? Share your thoughts as comments. We’d love to know.