Twitter gives 280 characters to all: What you need to know

Chris Burns - Nov 7, 2017
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Twitter gives 280 characters to all: What you need to know

This afternoon, Twitter announced they’d be pushing their newly-extended Tweet character limit. No longer 140, the new limit will be 280. While some users complained (apparently), Twitter suggests their study of the first limited-run test showed positive results. Instead of flooding the Twitter-sphere with max-character Tweets up to 280, the first test showed that the percentage of max-character Tweets fell significantly.

What’s not clear at the beginning of this larger-level roll-out are the specifics in the test group from the first wave. Twitter suggests that the number of Tweets in this group had 1% Tweets hit their limit, while before this test, 9% hit the limit. Twitter does not give the test group population in either case.

If you’ll look at the chart Twitter provides, they show two colored lines. The blue line represents a limit of 140 characters, while red is a limit of 280 characters. They show the top end of the chart to be 9% of the total number of Tweets for the given test segment. Twitter suggests this is “historical” data.

If you’ll look at the curve in the first segment of the chart, the number of Tweets with each different number of characters matches almost exactly. When the 280-Tweet extension is enacted, it seems to be that instead of 9% bumping up against the limit of 140, that last segment evens out across the 140-280 range.

While Twitter does not provide exact numbers, it’s safe to say here that all those Tweets that’d normally be crammed into 140 characters are now filling out longer Tweets. Also have a peek at that little jump in number of characters in the 280 test near 140. That either means people are so used to 140 characters that they now self-police their Tweets, or not every person in the test was given a heads-up about being part of it.

UPDATE: Twitter says the following – “On this graph, there is a small bump in the red line (which represents the group with 280 characters) at 140 because these people were also using older Twitter clients which didn’t have the ability to send longer Tweets, so they continued to hit the 140 character limit.”

Twitter also suggests the following rather important bit of information in their release this week: “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.”

Wrap-up

The 280 character limit is here for most users now. This is the first time the character limit has been extended since Twitter launched in 2006, and it’s not likely the last. Let us know if you see the update yet and where you see it!


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