Feeling left out because your fancy friends are acting all fancy with their doubled Twitter character limit? Nah, me neither.
But hey – at least they won’t be fancy for long, they’ll just be normal like the rest of us plebs. That’s right, Twitter is giving us all 280 characters.
While not everyone has the update yet (I don’t. But that’s fine. I didn’t want it anyway see if I care) Twitter told me (yes I asked) “It’s rolling out today, it just may take a little time for everyone to be updated. Make sure you also update your app and open a new tab on your desktop.”
Anyway, here’s all the goss from the peeps at Twitter themselves. Specifically, Product Manager Aliza Rosen:
In September, we launched a test that expanded the 140 character limit so that every person around the world could express themselves easily in a Tweet. Our goal was to make that possible while ensuring we keep the speed and brevity that makes Twitter, Twitter. Looking at all the data, we’re excited to share we’ve achieved this goal and are rolling this change out to all languages where cramming was an issue.
During the first few days of the test many people Tweeted the full 280 limit because it was new and novel, but soon after behaviour normalised (more on this below). We saw when people needed to use more than 140 characters, they Tweeted more easily and more often. But importantly, people Tweeted below 140 most of the time and the brevity of Twitter remained.
Highlights are below and in our additional blogs about our experimentation process, extensive data analysis, research, and design work.
Easier to Tweet
Historically, 9 per cent of Tweets in English hit the character limit. This reflects the challenge of fitting a thought into a Tweet, often resulting in lots of time spent editing and even at times abandoning Tweets before sending. With the expanded character count, this problem was massively reduced – that number dropped to only 1% of Tweets running up against the limit. Since we saw Tweets hit the character limit less often, we believe people spent less time editing their Tweets in the composer. This shows that more space makes it easier for people to fit thoughts in a Tweet, so they could say what they want to say, and send Tweets faster than before.
Keeping Twitter’s brevity
We – and many of you – were concerned that timelines may fill up with 280 character Tweets, and people with the new limit would always use up the whole space. But that didn’t happen. Only 5 per cent of Tweets sent were longer than 140 characters and only 2 per cent were over 190 characters. As a result, your timeline reading experience should not substantially change, you’ll still see about the same amount of Tweets in your timeline. For reference, in the timeline, Tweets with an image or poll usually take up more space than a 190 character Tweet.
It’s worth emphasizing again that people in the test got very excited about the extra space in the beginning and many Tweets went way beyond 140. People did silly (creative!) things like writing 1 character per line to make their Tweets extra large. It was a temporary effect, and didn’t last long. We’ll definitely see some of this novelty effect spike again with this week’s launch and expect it to resume to normal behaviour soon after.
In addition to more Tweeting, people who had more room to Tweet received more engagement (Likes, Retweets, @mentions), got more followers, and spent more time on Twitter. People in the experiment told us that a higher character limit made them feel more satisfied with how they expressed themselves on Twitter, their ability to find good content, and Twitter overall.
We are making this change after listening and observing a problem our global community was having (it was’t easy enough to Tweet!), studying data to understand how we could improve, trying it out, and listening to your feedback. We’ll continue listening and work to make Twitter easier for everyone, while making sure we keep what you love.
Japanese, Korean, and Chinese will continue to have 140 characters because cramming is not an issue in these languages. In fact, these languages have always been able to say more with their Tweets because of the density of their writing systems.
So, er, can you tweet 280 characters yet? And can someone put in a good word for me? Cheers.