As a social media platform Twitter is enormous. It’s estimated that the 330 million active monthly users tweet 6,000 times per second. In October of this year, Twitter’s market capitalization was $12.64 billion. But while Twitter is big the Tweets themselves have always been small.
Twitter’s big appeal has always been brevity. Tweets had to be short and to the point. 140 characters simply isn’t enough to be wasteful with words. Brief tweets allow users to scan posts quickly, stopping only if something tickles their fancy. The speed with which you can comb through massive volumes of information is Twitter’s claim to fame.
Twitter has recently made some significant changes, however, and these changes could challenge Twitter’s identity.
Twitter character limit doubles
On November 7th, the social media platform doubled the Twitter character count limit. Tweets used to be a maximum of 140 characters, but tweets can now reach up to 280 characters.
Twitter increased the character limit in hopes of encouraging more people to tweet more often. The idea is that people found 140 characters too limiting, which would discourage some users from sharing thoughts.
While some users may feel as though an extra 140 characters was all they needed to finally express themselves, not everyone is tickled by the doubled character limit.
Both J.K. Rowling and Stephen King expressed disappointment with a larger character cap. On November 8th, Rowling tweeted, “Twitter’s destroyed its USP. The whole point, for me, was how inventive people could be within that concise framework.”
Twitter introduced a new feature last week called threads. Basically, Twitter threads are intended to facilitate tweetstorms.
You can draft multiple tweets, go back and edit them as you see fit, and hit a “Tweet all” button when you’re ready to send your thread.
The tweets aren’t posted simultaneously even though you hit a single button to send them. There’s a bit of time between each tweet in the thread.
You can continue to add new tweets to the same old threads. There’s a current limit of 25 tweets per thread, but if the new feature does well, this number could change.
The response to Twitter threads hasn’t been as strong as the increased Twitter character count. People have been using threads on Twitter for years, but this is the first time there’s a feature that lends itself to rapid-fire posting.
Threads feature a “Show this thread” button, so if you’re interested in the thread you can open it, and if not, it won’t interrupting your scanning.
How will these changes affect Twitter?
Some Twitter users are concerned that the recent changes on Twitter are changing the social media platform’s very identity. Longer tweets and Twitter threads make feeds less scanable, slower, and more difficult to digest.
Twitter used to lend itself to brevity, concision, and succinctness. It seems as though that’s changing. At the very least, Twitter is getting easier and more rant-friendly.
Will this be good or bad for Twitter? It’s difficult to say. People tend to roll with the punches when it comes to changes on social media platforms. There’s initial outrage, which is followed by acceptance, and eventually people forget their favorite platform was like before changes were ever made.