Twitter Unveils Big Updates to 140-Character Limit

Allie McDowell
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Twitter is about to become a little easier to use – and a little more long-winded, too. Well, not that long-winded. This is the social network famous for the 140-character limit, after all. And thanks to hashtags, links, pictures, videos and tagging other users’ handles in a reply, that 140-character limit is often more like 40 characters after everything is said and done. But that’s about to become a thing of the past.

Twitter officially announced on Tuesday it will be making a series of changes regarding what counts against its current 140-character limit. It also announced it would be changing how users reply to and interact with each other.

According to Twitter, “These changes will allow for richer public conversations that are easier to follow on Twitter, and ensure people can attach extra elements, media, and content to Tweets without sacrificing the characters they have to share their view.”

So what exactly are the changes?

Replies & Media Attachments

In the coming months, use of @names in reply to tweets will no longer be counted against the 140-character limit, allowing users more characters for a reply. It’s important to note, however, that Twitter will still be counting new non-reply tweets starting with an @mention and @mentions added explicitly by the user in the body of the tweet.

Another big change? The 140-character limit will also exclude media attachments or the URLs associated with them (such as photos, GIFs, videos and polls). However, URLs typed or pasted inside a tweet will still continue to count toward the character limit.

What Does This Mean For Brands? The new character count will make it easier for brands to share compelling copy when sharing media or replying to their customers. Brands can now reply or share media without limiting their overall message. Previously, images and links could take up 20-25 characters, leaving users with only 115-120 characters of text to work with. While the change still requires brands to keep their copy creative and concise, it now allows them a little extra room to work with and invites brands to share more visual content.

Retweet & Quote Tweet Yourself

Twitter also announced they were adding a new feature that will allow users the ability to quote and retweet their own tweets.

What Does This Mean For Brands? This is a feature that has long been requested by users and brands on Twitter. Twitter explained the feature is for “when you want to share a new reflection or feel like a really good one went unnoticed.” This allows brands to maximize their content and reuse their content while adding additional thoughts.

Removal of the “.@”

Previously, replies or tweets starting with an @mention were only shown in the recipient’s timeline or on the “Tweets and Replies” tab of a user’s timeline. Due to this, users began adding a period before their reply to broadcast their messages to all their followers.

Twitter has announced they are removing the need for this since, “new tweets that begin with a username will reach all your followers”.

Replies (tweets created using the reply function) will continue to only be seen by people who follow both users in a conversation, though. If users would like a reply to be seen by their full audience, this is when the new retweet yourself function will be handy.

What Does This Mean For Brands? This update could be potentially tricky for brands, as it will mean that brands will want to be careful in how they’re responding to customers on Twitter – especially customers complaining about their products or services. Unless brands want followers to see your customer service responses, they’ll have to use the reply function versus just typing in the users’ handle to reply.

Category: Social Media
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