Bigger Tweets vs. Better Tweets

bigtweet littletweet

Twitter’s experiment with doubling the character limit for tweets took the social media world by surprise. Twice the tweet-power! Who would have thought? After training ourselves to limit tweets to a terse 140 characters, the freedom to fill a newly expanded 280-character allotment sounds downright luxurious. Now the lucky test group are allowed to say twice as much about our links and opinions. There’s just one important question: should we?

There are times, to be sure, when 140 characters are not enough. That’s certainly not sufficient scope to tackle a tweet rant or share in-depth analysis of a timely issue. Then again, meaningful analysis and insights aren’t best shared in a simple tweet; they deserve a thoughtfully crafted article which you can introduce in a tweet that fits well within the existing 140-character limit. (Twitter rants have no place in professional life, obviously.)

Could it be that the brouhaha about expanded tweet capacity is irrelevant for professional services? That may indeed prove to be the case. Consider this: Twitter’s own analysis shows shorter tweets earn more engagement than do longer ones (for Promoted Tweets, at least). The data from other platforms is even more convincing, with some research indicating that the shortest posts of all garner the greatest interest from Facebook users.

Analysts have found varying numbers for the ideal character count, but whether the magic number is 40, 80, 100 or 120, research consistently points to better engagement from posts under 140 characters.

There may be times when you want to take advantage of a potential increase in allowable length. In most cases, however, you’ll get better results by sticking with the brevity imposed by a 140-character limit. For professional purposes, plan on continuing to share short tweets that establish your position, contribute a small nugget of wisdom or introduce a longer article – one that delves into the subject matter more thoroughly than you could even in 280 characters.

If you’re among the small group of Twitter users currently offered a higher character count, go right ahead and experiment. Have fun while you’re at it, like some other testers are. Learn what works and share it with the world – we’re fascinated by the notion! But even if 280 becomes standard for all, keep in mind that you might not get more mileage by running longer. An enforced approach to concise speech may be a gift that benefits your social media communications rather than a limit that impairs your ability to connect with followers.

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Sarah Warlick

Sarah Warlick founded Proof Positive Content to provide professional service firms with high-quality content that resonates with their target audiences. Sarah's writing appears in books, on the websites of over a dozen Top 100 Accounting Firms and in Accounting Today, Forbes and other leading publications, but usually under another name. Ghostwriters rarely get the glory - their clients do!