Decoding 280 Characters Tweet: What Is Twitter Up To With Longer Tweets?

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Aarzu Khan
A full-time data scientists and a part-time industry analyst; still learning power of effective presentation and firm believer of the thought "Numbers are always magical". Love to be in the network of people who 'know' how to respect their time and keep others engaged in meaningful activities.
[Updated]: On 07 November 2017, Twitter finally doubled its Tweet limit from 140 Characters to 280 Characters for all languages except for Japanese, Korean, and Chinese.

Twitter Inc. (NYSE:TWTR) has started testing 280 characters tweet limit in a bid to increase penetration, engagement and influence on people across the globe. For now, Twitter has rolled out the feature only to few selective twitter users, but soon the micro-blogging platform will make it available to all 337 million Twitter users.

The decision to ditch 140-characters tweet limit is no surprise. Off late Twitter has been struggling to keep the growth intact. Advertisers have started shying away and this has resulted in declining revenue since the very beginning of 2017.


In the first fiscal quarter of 2017, Twitter’s revenue was down 8% to $548 million compared to the year-ago quarter. The second fiscal quarter of 2017 was no relief as well; Twitter, once again, posted 5% YoY decline in revenue reaching $574 million in fiscal Q2 2017.

But the situation, in the second fiscal quarter of 2017, was getting even worse as it was the second time in the history of Twitter when the popular microblogging platform failed to add any new user during this three-month period. It was Q4 2015 when Twitter’s user base declined for the very first time.

twitter monthly active users

In 2016, Twitter added mere 14 million new internet users with the platform. In the first half of 2017, only 9 million new users have joined the microblogging platform so far. To put things in perspective, the count of monthly active users (MAUs) of Facebook has gone up to 2.01 billion, adding 141 million MAUs in 2017 so far.

Twitter Is Heading To Meet MySpace

Remember MySpace; once online social media behemoth that failed to compete with the growing popularity of Facebook and ended up becoming a music discovery platform that not many care about! The rise and inglorious fall of MySpace is definitely an interesting case study for all professionals who have got anything to do with social media.

Jack Dorsey, CEO – Twitter, has probably seen it coming. Twitter has been struggling with the falling revenue and nil growth in its user base since the beginning. Dorsey knew that he needs to act and act fast. Despite being the most popular B2B platform for social interaction, Twitter has, so far, struggled to replicate the success of Facebook or LinkedIn.


Despite the fact that Twitter beats Facebook in terms of engagement and CTR (Click-Through-Rate) with a greater margin, the platform is failing to lure new users to the platform that would eventually attract marketing campaigns from brand targeting a wide number of internet users. As a result, brands are preferring Instagram over Twitter.

Limiting Tweets Has An Adverse Effect on Revenue

The management of Twitter is aware of the radical shift the online social media is going through. The young generation is driving the growth of the digital world, but like to express the free-flowing of their expressions, views and comment without any limitations. 140 characters Tweet limitation is a struggle for the generation which is indulged more in entertainment, social, and political activities nowadays.

Besides, people from the same generation are also the early adopters of new products/services launched by brands. Distancing from such generation could cost dear for brands as well as companies in a long run.

Twitter 280 Characters Tweet: A Direct Impact On Userbase

In a bid to keep Twitter’s userbase swelling, it’s imperative to rope in the new generation internet users who have been leaning more towards Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat which has no limitations on characters, but Twitter has.

Twitter latest move to increase the character limitation of a Tweet could be seen a well-calculated move to lure as many internet users as possible. The flexibility will not only allow existing users base to express themselves in detail, eliminating the need to link to an external source every time but also strengthens Twitter financial status.

Premium brands have realised the potential of Twitter userbase; The microblogging social network help generating 3% – 20% more revenue for brands as Twitter users are always willing to spend more. The demographics of the majority of Twitter users clearly indicate the high buying power as compared to those on Facebook and Instagram.

The policy makers at Twitter are in no mood to leave any stone unturned to avoid employing strategies that could force Twitter to operate under the umbrella of other tech giants. At this point in time, Google seems to be the most qualified acquirer as it has already acquired most of the Twitter’s developer products.

But this is not the first time when Twitter has decided to make a radical change in the product. For over the last few years, Twitter has been experimenting with multiple features, including Live Videos.

The Last-Ditch Effort

All said and done, the decision to increase the character limit of Tweets could possibly turn out to be the last effort to survive. If fails, Twitter would be left with very few options to explore. Many analysts believe that Twitter would be sold, eventually, if it fails to turn the table.

But selling off Twitter may also not be a cake walk for Dorsey. The restricted growth potential with characters limitation, and extra baggage, like problems with harassment and abuse, may discourage many suitable buyers.

The decision to increase the number of characters in a tweet is resulting in a mixed bag of responses. While there are people who have put their weight behind it, many have tagged it as a ‘disaster which would attract more spams‘.

Only time will tell which way Twitter would head to with the new change; meanwhile, we are keeping a close eye on Twitter analytics!


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