Last week the nation mourned. After a long battle of competing with Facebook, Twitter lost its defining 140-character limit. In an effort to attract new users and increase growth, the Twitter character limit expanded to 280 characters, making it ‘easier’ for all to Tweet.
The days of deciding which grammatical sin should be committed would be left behind.
It’s safe to say that the initial reaction was one of distress combined with a sense of loss. J.K Rowling took to the platform to voice that Twitter had destroyed its only USP, but it was perhaps Stephen King’s annoyance that resonated most deeply…
But why were we so attached to Twitter’s 140 character limit in the first place? Was it the creativity it enforced or the brevity and clarity it achieved? Perhaps, it was that constraints don’t waste people’s time – you were immersed in a world with no obligations. Don’t care about what Kanye had for dinner? Move on. No time wasted.
“Brevity is the soul of wit” – William ShakespeareNow we’re left wondering whether Twitter really needed to change. Had the constraints of 140 finally alienated users, who sought to express their feelings on other channels, or did Twitter see an extension of its limit as a money-making opportunity?
As a Social Media Manager, I can’t help but think this wasn’t the issue that needed solving. Should an edit button have instead been at the top of the to-do list, or should Twitter finally have invested time in sorting out its harassment policy once and for all?
On the other hand, it is easy to see that the character limit symbolized a real problem for the platform, as it made harder to get people to Tweet. For many, it could be the difference between becoming a new user and giving up before even beginning. How much can you really say in just 140 characters?
The big questions we’re now asking are, ‘will Twitter change as a platform?’ ‘Will this affect our roles as Social Media Managers?’ ‘Has the platform been ruined once and for all by the millennial desire to always need more?’
Since its once revolutionary days, Twitter has acquired a more than tumultuous reputation and I can’t help but think rather than rejuvenating the platform, Twitter 280 is just a step towards its inevitable demise.