What You Need To Know About Twitter’s 140 Character Update

By @TheMarkDalton

Alright, it is no secret now and I am sure Twitter users are fully aware at this stage that a big change has been made to how tweets work. Twitter has cut back on what content uses up the 140 character limit. So what are the changes that you need to be aware of?

First off, let us just point out that this change is well overdue. We have been crying out for something like this for years now on Twitter. For too long have we been plagued by crafting a perfect tweet only to upload a photo and find that the character limit decreases. I know that we are creatures of habit and we don’t like change but this is an example of change that you just can’t help but like.

From now on, @names in replies, media attachments and quoted tweets are no longer counted towards the 140 character limit. This will allow you to flesh out your tweets with context and not feel as restricted as you do right now. 140 characters is limited real estate so when that is taken up before you even type anything yourself, well lets just say the job gets a whole lot tougher.

The change was announced back in May but has only rolled out now. It is far from the rumoured 10,000 character limit we were hearing about at one stage not so long ago which is probably a good thing and will go a long way to improving the Twitter experience.

What has changed?

Twitter shared the full details of what has changed on their blog which you can read here. Simply put, here is a list of what is changed by the update:

Replies: When you reply to a tweet, names will no longer count toward the 140 character count so you don’t need to penny pinch and make deliberate errors to try fit everything in.
Media attachments: At last, media attachments which is basically photos, videos, GIFs and so on will not count towards the 140 limit.
Retweet and Quote tweet: When you quote a tweet to add a comment it will now be easier than before as you will have the full 140 characters after quoting.
No more ‘.@‘: The ‘.@‘ at the start of a tweet has become common on Twitter when we want to reply to someone but we want it to reach all our followers too. New tweets which begin with a username will now automatically reach all your followers so you can now drop the full stop at the start of the tweet and just proceed as normal.

Why are the changes significant?

These changes are significant for several reasons. The main goal for Twitter in every decision they make now is to try and make the platform more enjoyable and more appealing to a larger number of users. Now you can benefit from this update in several ways.

1) Provide context.

You have more space to reply to people so when you end up in a conversation on Twitter you will not be as limited as before and that will give you a chance to provide more context to tweets. One or two words extra can make all the difference.

2) Take advantage of visuals.

We know that visual content such as photos and videos gets a higher level of engagement on Twitter, that is a fact by now. If you attach a photo to your content in a tweet then there is a higher chance of it being seen as opposed to using just text. Photos tend to give users around a 35% bump in retweets and videos tend to get a 28% boost.

Now you will be able to attach photos to tweets and not have to worry about them eating away at your character count. This could encourage more users to take advantage of visual content and help improve Twitter engagement.

3) ‘.@‘ looks messy!

How messy does it look starting a tweet like this? We have used it to this point because it gets the job done. It has become a long standing part of Twitter as we want to connect with others and sometimes we want others to see those connections.

Taking away the need to use this means that feeds will look just that little bit cleaner and sharper. Of course we are so used to putting a full stop at the start of a tweet when we want it to be noticed so the question really is, will people remember that it is just not necessary anymore?

Better conversation

The bottom line is that a simple change such as this allows for potentially better conversation on Twitter. We are still limited by 140 characters, and that is an integral part of Twitter’s DNA. I don’t think that should change, it wouldn’t feel right if it did change. However there is now greater flexibility to improve your Twitter based content and just general Twitter interaction.