As Twitter tampers with its DNA, marketers divided over its effectiveness

Twitter’s move to increase its character limit to 280 is seen as the company’s attempt to attract more users and take on its competitors

by Ruhail Amin
Published - Nov 9, 2017 8:52 AM Updated: Nov 9, 2017 8:52 AM

With Twitter deciding to increase its character limit to 280 from 140 for the masses, brand owners and marketers are looking at a new possibility of engaging customers. It must be mentioned that Twitter first announced to increase the character limit to 280 this September but it was available only to a select group of users on trial basis.

Explaining the rationale behind this move, the company had cited data that referenced how the character constraints impacted users differently, depending on their language. Twitter said that those who tweeted in languages like Japanese, Korean and Chinese were able to express around double the amount of information in a single character, compared with users who spoke English, Spanish, Portuguese or French, for example.
"We are making this change after listening and observing a problem our global community was having (it wasn't easy enough to Tweet!), studying data to understand how we could improve, trying it out, and listening to your feedback," Twitter product manager Aliza Rosen wrote in a blog post.

This move has received mixed reactions so far. According to some experts, this increase in the character limit could make Twitter less reader-friendly as longer tweets would also mean less attention in the world that is already tackling with attention deficit. Terming this move by Twitter as tampering with its DNA, Harish Bijoor, Brand-expert & Founder, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc says, “I do believe Twitter has tampered with its core DNA by increasing its limit to 280. The soul of Twitter was brevity. It taught an entire generation of people to turn crisp. And now this is a U-turn. For brand-marketers however, this is more space to tell their story. A whole generation of people has learnt to keep it short and tight. Love letters have been written in 140-characters as has twitterature! But alas! That is not to be anymore!”

As per the latest announcement, the new limit will not apply to tweets written in Chinese, Japanese and Korean. Twitter suggests this is because East Asian languages tend to be more compact, conveying almost double the amount of information within a single character.

Sharing his views about the move, Vikas Parihar, Head, Digital Integration, FCB India says, “The extra character count could lead to decrease in engagement. I think that some brands would immediately jump at the opportunity to say more on the platform, but do their followers want them to say more?. Twitter doubling the length of user posts makes that microblogging 50% less micro. It may be fun to write and post longer tweets but it’s not generally going to be as much fun to read longer tweets. Brands, therefore, may well find it even harder to reach audience organically.”

With Twitter struggling to post strong user growth over the years, this move is seen as the company’s attempt to attract more users and also take on its competitors head-on.

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