Without Twitter's 140 Character Limit Brevity Is No Longer the Soul of Wit

Lot's of people have managed to say plenty with 140 characters, but now you can say much, much more.
Without Twitter's 140 Character Limit Brevity Is No Longer the Soul of Wit
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Social Media Manager at Sprout Social
5 min read
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Some things just can't be said in under 140 characters. How many times have you written the perfect Tweet, only to see “-1” in the character count field? I know I have.

One of the unique aspects of Twitter’s character limit is that it inspires brevity and challenges you to be creative, but I think many who work in marketing can agree that it can also be a source of frustration for many social media managers and content creators.

If 140 characters has been a challenge for you, breathe easy, friend. Twitter recently changed what counts toward its character limit and it’s going to have an impact on your content marketing strategy.

Change is good.

Twitter didn’t always have a 140-character limit. When Twitter launched in 2006 it was a simple SMS service intended to let people communicate with small groups of people.

Fast forward 10 years with a myriad of enhancements, I believe Twitter’s new character count can be lauded as one of the more major updates in recent Twitter history. With it, you can now do more with your Tweets without sacrificing valuable characters.

Related: Twitter: The Company No One Wants to Buy

Media attachments like photos, GIFs, videos, polls or Quote Tweets will no longer count against the 140-character limit in your Tweets and replies. This is very helpful because a picture is worth the proverbial thousand words and can convey more of what you want to say than text alone. With the new update, you can poll your audience, express yourself through photos and videos, react with GIFs or broadcast live moments with Periscope all without chipping away at your character limit.

But be careful -- URLs that are typed or pasted into any Tweet will continue to count against your characters; a typed or pasted link of any length will take up 23 characters -- even if the link itself is less than that, like when using a URL shortener.

You get a tweet, you get a tweet.

As much as I’d love to have Oprah’s social media influence, the reality is that many of my Tweets won't reach my entire audience. But the new character limit can help you prevent your Tweets from getting lost in all of the noise. Keep these tips in mind as you’re navigating the expanded limits.

Focus on quality content.

Your business objectives might be to increase sales or attract new customers, but your goal as a content creator is to publish content that people will find valuable.

The new rules surrounding the Twitter character limit allows you to be more expressive with your audience (GIFs for days) which can incite engagement with them.

Maintain brevity.

Embrace 140 characters. As humans we have a tendency to overcomplicate what we’re trying to say. Even with the new update, practicing brevity in as few characters as possible is a great way to challenge yourself.

Related: Is Twitter Dead? Not So Fast My Friends

A good way to accomplish this is by focusing your Tweet on one message rather than trying to relay multiple messages in one. Producing more clear and concise content on Twitter can even help you become a better writer off the platform.

Have something longer to share? Include a link to a blog post for elaboration. It’s not easy relaying news in 140 characters, but by including a compelling image and link, readers will be able to consume more with less.

Incorporate hashtags.

Studies have shown that Tweets with hashtags get twice as much engagement as those without them, and 55 percent more Retweets. With Twitter’s new update, there’s more room to flex your creative muscles and start thinking about how hashtags can be incorporated into your social content.

Hashtags are a viable (and easy) way to increase message visibility and track campaign objectives. Keep in mind that the longer a hashtag is, the more you’ll eat up from your allotted 140 characters, so it’s important for them to be short, brand relevant and easy to remember.

It’s all about understanding how you use them to your advantage, so the key is to use a good mix of popular (wide appea) and branded hashtags that are relevant to your business or industry. And don’t be afraid to test -- you might be surprised with your results.

Related: 4 Reasons to Love Twitter

What’s old is new again.

Twitter’s new update is boldly addition by subtraction and I for one am a fan of it. Content gets new life; engagement gets more breathing room, all while staying true to what makes Twitter unique: what’s not to love? And while I can’t speak for all social media marketers, I have definitely noticed that the new update has made content publishing and audience engagement much more enjoyable. You know what they say: a small change can make a huge difference.

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