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280 vs. 140: our take on the big Twitter debate

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Earlier this month, Twitter took the bold step to double the tweet character limit from 140 characters to 280 characters, in a bid to draw in more users and boost engagement for the social network. Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter, tweeted back in September when the change was announced that this will solve “a real problem people have when trying to tweet”. However, some Twitter users have opposed the change, leaving a divide in opinion throughout the Twitter-sphere. This was the case in the Freestyle office, where a debate took place into the pros and cons of having 280 characters to tweet.

So, to mark this momentous social media occasion, we asked Freestylers to share their opinion on the 280 character limit. Here’s what they had to say (in 280 characters or less, of course!):

We got a mixed bag of opinions from the Freestyle team. Personal musings aside, we were interested in what this change means for brands: specifically, how will it impact their ability to engage audiences on Twitter and influence their wider social marketing strategy? We spent some time discussing this in the office, and came up with six potential pros and cons we see for businesses:

Potential pros:

  • Better customer engagement: having more space to reply to customers’ queries will allow brands to send more detailed, less cryptic responses (no more acronyms and 3-part responses!)
  • A larger canvas for ads: it’s no secret that social media has allowed marketers to promote their brands to a more targeted and socially-engaged audience. Let’s hope that marketers use this extra space to revolutionise how Twitter is used, and not spam our timelines with pointless filler and barrages of hashtags and emojis.
  • More users = more customers: Twitter is hoping this change will attract more users to the social media platform, which for marketers means more potential customers. A win-win situation could be on the horizon.

Potential cons:

  • Less is more?: as referenced in our Freestylers’ tweets, giving people more characters doesn’t mean they will compose better tweets. Marketers need to be aware that the extra allowance means more effort is needed to create quality content.
  • Twitter loses its USP: With the extended character limit, Twitter needs to be careful it does not become another Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn. Twitter’s one characteristic that made it unique from the rest is slowly fading away, and it’s the job of marketers to not become complacent by sharing the same content over all channels, just because it is now possible.
  • Altered customer engagement: we put this as a positive, but it could easily be seen as a con. Customer will have more space to complain, and negativity will be harder to ignore. We agreed that customer interactions would be the largest change in this update, which means social media strategy is vital.

Whether you’re pro or anti 280 characters, it’s clear this change has shifted the way Twitter will be perceived and used. Are you embracing or lamenting the extra characters? We’d love to hear your opinion. Let us know at @freestyleint!

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