Even with the changes, keep it short ‘n tweet

Photo courtesy of  mkhmarketing

Photo courtesy of mkhmarketing

Although the long-awaited news about the changes to Twitter’s character count first came out last week, the Blue Bird’s announcement today was met with plenty of joy, celebration and, of course, GIFs.



Yes, one of the things we like about Twitter is its fundamental brevity. However, when we want to share information, a reaction or anything extra, we’d have to think about collections of 23 characters each that cut into the already limiting 140. When the idea of 10K Twitter came up, most of us turned into every angry mob scene in 27 years of The Simpsons put together. Thankfully, instead of 10,000 characters, they listened to us and found a way to move some of the “scaffolding” of Tweets into display elements so they no longer count towards the character limit within the Tweet.

Say What?

To provide further detail regarding the changes Twitter has made, let’s look at what they said:

  • Replies: When replying to a Tweet, @names outside of the display area will no longer count toward the 140-character count. This will make having conversations on Twitter easier and more straightforward, no more penny-pinching your words to ensure they reach the whole group.
  • Media attachments: When you add attachments like photos, GIFs, videos, polls, or Quote Tweets outside of the display area, that media will no longer count as characters within your Tweet. More room for words!
  • Retweet and Quote Tweet yourself: We’ll be enabling the Retweet button on your own Tweets, so you can easily Retweet or Quote Tweet yourself when you want to share a new reflection or feel like a really good one went unnoticed.
  • Goodbye, .@: These changes will help simplify the rules around Tweets that start with a username. New Tweets that begin with a username will reach all your followers. (That means you’ll no longer have to use the ”.@” convention, which people currently use to broadcast Tweets broadly.) If you want a reply to be seen by all your followers, you will be able to Retweet it to signal that you intend for it to be viewed more broadly.

What’s that last one now?

ICYMI, the mediumest kept secret on Twitter was to add a single period before a Twitter user’s name in order for that tweet to reach all of your followers instead of the intersection of your and that user’s followers only. This is where the tires screeched and the record scratched for many.

Concerns over spam and harassment are HUGE on social media in general and Twitter in particular. From what I and many others remember, the reason for the original change to only let the intersection of followings in on these types of conversations was partially, if not heavily, based on similar concerns. Then, when you read some of the developer notes that were released because Twitter has made the right decision to allow time for developers to build the changes into their tools before releasing this new way to tweet, a natural and understandable level of worry occurs:

To give you a better visual of how Twitter will treat tweets when they make this change:

So, what’s the final verdict?

While, I am one who certainly wants Twitter to step their game up regarding spam and harassment on my favorite social media platform, for the purpose of this post, I will answer the question in the header from a marketing and branding standpoint.

We must remember that, in communications, we have a whole lot of control over the way we do things. Just because you can do something, it doesn’t mean that you should. For example, just because we can potentially add up to 50 “@” handles at the beginning of a tweet and not affect the character account, doesn’t mean we should. We cannot take this wonderful new ability to not worry about certain enhancements for granted by ignoring the fundamental spirit of brevity on Twitter. Said brevity is part of what gives Twitter its own level of ephemerality and keeps us coming back for more. 

Simply put, don’t be an annoying human being on Twitter or anywhere else for that matter. Continue to keep it short and sweet.

Gary J. NixComment