Social media giant Twitter has released the ability to tweet in 280 characters––double the iconic 140––to the general public earlier today after testing with a selected group of users has proven successful.
The company launched a test last September that expanded the character limit in a bid to enable users to express themselves better in the platform while keeping its iconic speed and brevity intact.
Twitter product manager Aliza Rosen elaborated on what happened during the testing.
“During the first few days of the test many people Tweeted the full 280 limit because it was new and novel, but soon after behavior normalized,” she said in the company’s official blog.
Rosen adds that the feature helped increase user activity, something which the company has been struggling with in the past years.
“We saw 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.”
The move aims to make the platform more enticing to new users in a bid to compete with other social media giants like Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram.
Expanding the character count helped solve the problem of tweets hitting the 140 limit which typically resulted to the inconvenience of exerting more effort in editing in a platform known for speed and ease of use, with some even abandoning the tweet itself.
According to the company, 9% of tweets in English hit the character limit before the expansion. After, the number dropped to 1%.
“Since we saw Tweets hit the character limit less often, we believe people spent less time editing their Tweets in the composer. This shows that more space makes it easier for people to fit thoughts in a Tweet, so they could say what they want to say, and send Tweets faster than before.”
After news of the decision made rounds on social media, people were concerned that their timelines might be flooded by 280-character tweets, and that people would always use up the whole space.
The prediction, however, did not happen. Only 5% of the tweets sent in the test went beyond 140 characters and only 2% went beyond 190 after behavior stabilized.
Expanding the limit not only encouraged more tweeting, but also more engagement in the form of likes, retweets, and mentions, and more time spent on Twitter.
It must be noted, however, that not all languages have been given the 280-character limit.
“Japanese, Korean, and Chinese will continue to have 140 characters because cramming is not an issue in these languages. In fact, these languages have always been able to say more with their Tweets because of the density of their writing systems.”
The company made this change after listening to the general public, and promises to continue doing so to ensure quality user experience.