While Twitter has long been a powerful tool for brands to reach customers and potential customers, companies have also long complained about the limitations it imposes — namely, the 140-character limit.
It is no easy feat to distill your message into just 140 characters. Many of us have gotten creative with adjectives, contractions and abbreviations, while others have tried to get around the limitation by putting one longer message into multiple tweets.
The problem with multiple tweets is that the message is diluted — if your followers even see all of it. Most of the time, followers will only see some of the messages in the list unless they take the time to go to your profile and look at all your tweets.
Now that problem has been removed. Well, sort of.
Now there is no more 140 character limit on Twitter for some tweets. Here’s what you need to know:
User names will now be exempt from the traditional character limit so long as they are included in a reply.
Therefore, if you are replying to a user, that person’s name will appear and will not count toward the character limit. If you add other users in that reply, those user names will also be exempt from the character limit. You can include as many names as you like without penalty.
However, if you write a post of your own and include a mention, that user name will count toward your character limit.
Media attachments will also be excluded from the character limit on Twitter.
If you link to a picture or other piece of media hosted elsewhere, those characters will count. However, if you just upload directly to Twitter, it will not count the URL attached to it as it did in the past.
Videos, photos, GIFs and polls that are uploaded through Twitter are exempt from the character limit. Any links outside the site will be counted toward the limit as usual. (Links are counted at 23 characters.)
Sponsored tweets will enjoy these same exceptions so advertisers will have a little more room to get out their message.
Twitter is introducing a couple of other changes that are not related to the character limit.
First, Twitter will now show replies to your full follower list even if you don’t start the reply with a period. In the past, you had to start your reply tweet with a period if you wanted the tweet to show up to everyone on your list. Otherwise, only a few people might have seen it.
That requirement was a bit confusing to users, and many did not even know they had to include the period to gain that visibility. The change will bring the site’s usability in line with expectations.
Second, Twitter is now giving users the option to retweet their own tweets. You don’t have to copy and paste a link to share an older tweet anymore. You can just hit the “retweet” button at the bottom of your tweet.
Being able to just retweet instead of copy and paste will not only make it easier to share your older tweets, but it will also make them look more official.
Ramifications for Business
The tweaks from Twitter won’t be game changing, but they will certainly help you to take better advantage of all the site has to offer.
The exception for user names and direct media uploads mean that you can get a couple dozen extra characters to say what you want to say. While that may not seem like a lot, it is when you compare it to the small, 140-character total. You could save 10 percent to 20 percent of space thanks to these new rules.
That space will seem like a lot when you are sponsoring tweets and want to get the most out of every single character. You’ll feel like you have a lot more room to say what you want and enhance it with images or other media.
The new rules also mean that you can be more liberal when tagging users in replies, which can help you connect with more peers and work toward building relationships that could turn into partnerships.
These are small changes, but they make subtle differences than can have a big impact on your long-term social media strategy.
We don’t yet know when these changes will be complete, but Twitter says they will be happening “soon.” Keep an eye out here and on Twitter for announcements that confirm the changes.
Now we’ll just have to wait for Twitter to eliminate the character limit entirely, just like Facebook did, and give us all opportunities to express ourselves the way we want. What’s the difference if we do it in one tweet or several? It all adds up to the same thing.