Twitter doubles up – and charities respond

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After a test of the 280-character limit, the social media giant has doubled the limit for everyone, and the sector has joined in with gusto

Twitter is now allowing tweets of up to #280characters, more than twice the previous length, and the sector has been quick to react to the new expansive digital world with characteristic enthusiasm.

Twitter’s decision to roll out the 280 character limit comes after a test in September that allowed some Twitter account holders to try the expanded messaging tool. The organisation said that in the first few days many users tweeted the full 280 limit because it was new and novel, but behaviour soon changed. In a blog on the site, Twitter product manager Aliza Rosen said: “We saw that when people needed to use more than 140 characters they tweeted more easily and more often. But, importantly, people tweeted below 140 most of the time and the brevity of Twitter remained.”

Rosen said that Twitter (and its users) were concerned that timelines would fill up with 280-character tweets and people testing the new limit would always use the whole space. But that didn’t happen: only 5 per cent of Tweets were longer than 140 characters and only 2 per cent were longer than 190 characters.

She said that users in the test got “very excited” about the extra space early on and many tweets went way beyond 140 characters.

“People did silly (creative) things like writing just a few characters per line to make their tweets extra large,” she said. “It was a temporary effect and didn’t last long. We expect to see some of this novelty effect spike again with this week’s launch and expect normal behaviour to resume soon after.”

Rosen added that the people who had more space to tweet got more engagement (likes, retweets and mentions) and more followers, but it was not clear whether or not this was because of the novelty or because of the quality of their content.

Whatever the reason, the sector has quickly joined in the bigger Twittersphere with a combination of humorous and serious messaging. Here’s a selection from the early adopters:

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