Twitter is tweaking one of its most distinguishing features

Since securing the top spot back in October 2015, Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, has implemented a number of significant and controversial changes to the platform he helped to create ten years ago.

There has been a clear trend in the changes made over the past nine months since Dorsey took the reins. Battling a declining user base, Twitter has long been fighting to keep users on the platform for long sessions and struggling to attract new users.

What is changing?

Twitter recently announcement that it will be changing the way it counts characters in tweets. Soon, links, videos and images will no longer be counted as part of the 140 character limit. Images and videos currently use 24 characters, and links currently swallow up 23 characters, even when automatically shortened by Twitter.

This change has been a long time coming; Dorsey revealed back in January they would be looking at new ways to display text within the platform, based on how people use the service. Not only that, but in August 2015, Twitter removed the character limit from direct messages.

Why remove the 140 character limit?

The origin of the 140 character limit dates from before the days of the smartphone, when users needed to fit all of the information within a text message. The brevity of the tweet has long been considered one of Twitter’s best and most distinguishing features, as it forces people to be concise (and frankly just avoids those long, wordy status updates that you may see on Facebook). As such, Twitter is well suited to B2B engagement, giving users short, punchy news updates with as little clutter as possible. And so it is a feature still cherished by regular users.

However, not everyone’s a fan. Many brands who are keen to promote their business dislike the restrictions.

Research suggests that the 140 character limit is actually putting off new users. When compared to other popular networks such as Facebook, which is gradually, quietly transitioning into a content sharing platform rather than a social one, it is easy to see how this feature could be holding the platform back.

What does this mean for brands?

This change will allow users and advertisers to create longer, multimedia messages. This is good news for social media advertisers as it is a well-known best practice that tweets travel much further with visual components. Previously brands often had to sacrifice message for media, or media for message, but now they will now be able to convey a richer experience within a single tweet. When you’ve only got 140 to play with, every character counts…

Will this impact how you interact on Twitter? Join the debate here.