The social media world is not averse to change. New networks are constantly popping up and old ones are constantly changing. As the internet and its users evolve at a rapid pace, it only makes sense that our primary conduit of online communication should work to keep up.
But unlike, say, Facebook, which is constantly tinkering with its news feed and adding new features (like the recent addition of “reactions”), Twitter is a less trigger-happy network when it comes to executing change.
Sure, Twitter has added new capabilities over its 10 years (like the ability to add images to tweets and integrate Periscope broadcasts), but the change has been less constant on Twitter than on a lot of other social networks. And many Twitter fans are pretty content with that.
To some, what makes Twitter different and valuable among the numerous social networks is it’s basic Twitterness: It’s essentially the social equivalent of texting—designed to enable people to dole out short, focused clips of information.
But faced with a plateauing user base and disappointing ad revenue growth, along with the high growth expectations placed on social networks today, rumors have been swirling that Twitter was considering some major changes.
One of those is the idea that Twitter would lift its 140-character limit, enabling people to make tweets as long as they wanted. Alas, Twitter didn’t decide to go that route (yet anyway). But they have announced a series of new changes to take effect in the coming months.
These changes, while fairly minor in the grand scheme of things, are a long-time coming. And unlike the idea of removing the network’s characteristic character limitation, the new changes will not rob Twitter of any of its Twitterness.
4 Things Twitter Will Be Doing Differently
While these changes have been officially confirmed on the Twitter blog, Twitter has not announced an exact date when the changes will take place. Rather, they note the changes will take place “in the coming months” (which we can safely assume to mean sometime in summer 2016).
So what will be different once these changes are integrated?
1. Media attachments will no longer count toward your 140-character limit.
This includes images, videos, polls, or quote tweets.
2. Twitter handles in replies will no longer count toward the character count.
That means when you reply to a specific user, their handle (for example: @eleventygroup) will no longer be included in your 140 characters.
3. When you reply to someone, all your followers will be able to see it.
Previously those tweets could only be seen by that specific user. This led many users to place a period before the @ symbol as a workaround (for example: .@eleventygroup). That will mercifully be a thing of the past.
4. You’ll be able to quote and retweet your own tweets.
Previously, Twitter wasn’t down with users duplicating their own content. But now you’ll be able to repost tweets you think deserve another shot.
3 Reasons These Changes Are Good for Organizations
Unlike other changes sweeping over social networks, none of the upcoming changes from Twitter should throw your social marketing efforts into disarray. In fact, they’re actually pretty beneficial—allowing you, as Twitter states, to “make the most of your 140 characters”.
Here’s how these new changes will help make your tweets more effective:
1. More Content
Have you ever had a perfect quote or quip you wanted to tweet but found you just couldn’t make it work because of handles or media files you needed to include? Well, these new changes will give you a little more content room.
Still, on a somewhat contrasting note, we’d encourage you not to max out your character count unless absolutely necessary. Longer isn’t always better. According to this post, 71-100-character tweets produce a higher engagement.
2. More Images
As anyone who’s quickly scrolled through their Twitter feed can attest, tweets with images stand out. According to this post and infographic, tweets with images also get 150% more retweets.
So why don’t more brand tweets include images? The primary reason is space. They eat up precious characters. Once that changes, it makes sense to use images with your tweets more often.
3. More/Better Conversations
Without user handles counting toward the character limit in replies, you be able to include more content. And since replies can now be seen by all your followers, more people will be able to see your activity and jump in on the conversation.
In combination, Twitter hopes these two things will stir up more direct conversations on the network. For organizations, conversations are a good way to create more personal engagement and build your follower base.