Twitter trialling 280 characters - Applied’s opinion

Twitter trialling 280 characters - Applied’s opinion

16th October 2017 in Digital Strategy, Social media

Last month, Twitter doubled its character limit from 140 characters to 280 characters, but only for a small group of users. Twitter deemed its current 140 character limit as a “major cause of frustration” and saw that this change could be a way to widen its appeal.  

Here at Applied, we deal with Twitter on a daily basis and are all too used to having to condense content to fit within this 140 character limit, it’s somewhat of an achievement when a tweet we have written perfectly summarises what we want to say and fits within 140 characters first time.

But what gets the attention of users isn’t necessarily the wording of the tweets but the media - videos, images and links - included within them. So, surely doubling the character limit will make more room for overly wordy tweets that stray away from their main purpose, or simply get ignored?

Here's what the team at Applied thinks:  

"One of Twitter’s best features is seeing a variety of thoughts and opinions incredibly quickly - especially when it comes to looking at Trends. By increasing the character limit, users might not see as much content from the people they follow, meaning it’s more important than ever for messages to stand out.

However, in my opinion, the only way you can truly stand out on Twitter is by combining your text with images and videos (preferably!), so I don’t think this update will make much difference to the people creating content - people like us at Applied - because we’ve known for a long time that to captivate audiences on social, media is the key element, and text comes in a definitive second place." - Chris Bardsley - Marketing Strategist.


"Just have a think about the social media accounts you use, in fact, think about the majority of media, what is it that draws you in or gets you to engage with the content? In most circumstances it will be the visual aspect that grabs your attention first, that makes you stop and then actually read what is either on the image or alongside it. So regardless of the amount of characters, you need to get the visual aspect right first.

Plus by increasing the character limit isn’t Twitter going away from the very ethos that brought it into being in the first place? The fact that tweets were immediate, punchy and fun?

Saying that, from a business perspective when you are trying to convey a particular message, the extra characters may very well come in handy!!" Jenny Green - Head of Project Delivery.


"Twitter’s appeal (and opportunity for marketers) is in its immediacy, so if you haven’t got your company’s message across effectively in the first 140 characters, users won’t read the additional 140 anyway.

I wouldn’t worry about the extra characters, the only real positive of the change is that you’ll no longer have to edit that ‘perfect’ tweet that turned out to be 142 characters long.

Continue to focus on the images and videos that draw attention to your tweets, and keep the text short, punchy and with an emphasis on engagement." Martyn Elliott - Web Content/SEO Manager.


So, the overall view from Applied is that 280 characters won’t really make a huge difference. It’s the media element of the tweets that really catches the attention of users. Whilst it is nice that there's a chance to extend the length of tweets it's likely that users will simply scroll past longer tweets because they haven't caught their attention or are ‘too long’.

If you would like some more advice or information on how to effectively manage your business’s social media, contact our MD Steve Sykes or give us a call on 01484 30 20 10

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