By Jason Garcia
“What’s in a tweet? That which we call a tweet by any other length would read as brief.” – 21st Century Shakespeare
Or would it?
Up until now, 140 characters, which includes letters, spaces, special characters, mentions, emojis, and hashtags, has been the law of the land in the Twitterverse.
But what can you actually fit in 140 characters?
Well, Twitter users can write love notes, state political views, share polls, conversations, tell jokes, or even write the world’s shortest novel. While there’s a lot that can go into 140 characters, it can still feel limiting to some.
There are obvious workarounds for users to go beyond the 140 characters such as spreading the text over multiple tweets, abbreviating or substituting words with emojis.
According to Twitter, language limitations are affecting how much is being communicated per tweet. The language you tweet with dictates how many words can fit in 140 characters. For instance, in Japanese you can say about double the words you can in English with the same number of characters.
As a result, Twitter is testing out an idea to double the size of tweets from 140 to 280 characters in some languages including English, French and Spanish.
But is there really a need?
Twitter has been able to maintain a successful communications platform with its current standard of 140 characters.
To me, the composition of a tweet is similar to a haiku or a sonnet. The boundaries of the medium create a beauty for content to live on. After all, it’s not just about publishing the tweet–people have to read them too. For the reader, 140 characters is easy to read and move on to the next tweet. We live in a world where people want to consume more content and that includes social posts. 140 characters can be seen as the perfect balance for both the writer and the reader.
Supporters of the character expansion say yes because they will no longer need to fumble around adjusting their tweet to fit the character constraints while getting the original message across.
Twitter purists, however, believe 140 characters are sufficient and more characters would kill the essence of Twitter.
As a social media professional, I see both sides to the argument. It can be helpful to businesses because you can get more content out per tweet, but at the same time, it can also be a negative because there will be more noise to compete with.
Wherever you stand on the issue, just remember a good tweet isn’t just about its characters, it’s also about the content.
So tweet responsibly, my friends!