Well, it finally happened. The long-awaited character expansion hit all Twitter users this week. Instead of being constrained to a paltry 140 characters, users can now expand their thoughts with 280 characters. While most people will simply use the expanded text to Tweet longer messages, there is a lot more to the update that will be important for people using social media for professional reasons. Using it for extra emojis is great, but don’t stop there!
What are the changes?
The most important change isn’t the extra characters, but what no longer counts as a character. Before the update, @names in replies (this is not yet live, but will be “soon” according to Twitter), photos, GIFs, polls, and quoted tweets all counted against your character count. This made interaction with other uses cumbersome, and often led to multi-Tweet responses that clogged up notifications and timelines. Removing those restrictions gives you more freedom to interact with followers, and lets you give greater context to your articles and posts.
Another useful change is the ability to Retweet and quote Retweet your posts. This sounds self-aggrandizing, but it is actually a very useful tool for updating posts or announcements and offers a fresh look when Retweeting older content. It will also be great for bringing back those brilliant tweets you feel didn’t get the attention you wish they had! Of course, this is a change you’ll want to use judiciously so as not to annoy your followers, but it will be a great tool when you need it.
The most subtle, but significant change is the removal of the need for placing a period be someone’s username to mention them publically. The old method of needing to write a username with punctuation before it, .@KWSMteam for example, is no longer necessary. For any new tweet (this does not apply if you are simply responding to someone), you can simply put their username and the tweet will be public. This is another fantastic update for communication on the channel, and also removes the extra character, giving you the full 280 to use.
What will I do with it?
Learning how to leverage the extra space is going to be vital to keeping your brand fresh and current. The ability to offer more context for your tweets is wonderful, but people are also used to reading in short bursts on Twitter, so make sure you are still economical in your posts. Don’t stretch out to the full 280 unless you need to. Having a back and forth with a follower will be a great way to use the 280, and without clogging up your feed with too much text. You will also be able to use better visuals (something you should already be doing) and have a lot more fun creating original and creative posts.
It’s a brave new world of Twitter, and despite the mixed reactions from users, this update can make you far more effective and mobilizing and encouraging your followers. Go forth, and use your 280 characters well!