More Characters on Twitter? Why You Shouldn’t Use All 140

Here’s the thing: you will soon be able to tweet with more characters. But that doesn’t mean you should.

Twitter announced in a blog post yesterday that it will no longer count embedded photos, videos, gifs, polls, or quoted tweets in its 140 character limit on tweets. Currently these count as 24 characters. When the changes roll out you will no longer need to keep your tweets with images to 116 characters.

Great news, right?

Twitter used to be a very text-heavy medium. If you were on the platform just 3 years ago you probably remember the days of having to click through to see an image. Once Twitter added inline images to tweets the data quickly showed that tweets with visuals got more engagement.

So we all started adding images to our tweets, which meant that with an image and a link suddenly you went from 140 characters to a measly 93.

Writing a tweet that provides enough info and intrigue to get your followers to click or retweet is tough. It’s even harder with just 93 characters.

Capture5-25-16

A tweet with a gif and a link? Now you’ll have more than 93 characters left.

Now you have more characters, which seems like great news.

Here’s why you shouldn’t use all 140 characters: According to Twitter’s own research, the sweet spot for tweet engagement is just 40 to 60 characters.

Wondering what 40 characters looks like?

That question above is exactly 40 characters. In other words, it’s super short.

With that said, you may find that your audience is particularly verbose and loves your longer, rambling 140 character tweets. You can find that out using Twitter’s free analytics and exporting your own Twitter data. A simple function in excel [=LEN(cell), e.g., =LEN(A2)] will tell you how many characters you use in each tweet and you can do some sorting and averaging from there.

But even easier than all that, when the changes roll out fight the urge to use all 140 characters available to you. Be succinct and see if your engagement goes up.

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About Stephanie Y.

I'm a professional news writer in Frederick, Maryland. I blog at S.Y. Ciphers.

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