Revisiting Twitter’s 280-Character Limit: What’s Working Today

In mid-November 2017, we examined the new 280-character limit that Twitter made generally available to the public on November 7, 2017. At the time, it was definitely too early to tell whether companies and individuals were embracing the new character limits. Now that we’ve had a few months pass, how has the landscape changed?

Length of Tweets Expanding

Overall, we see that character usage has generally gone up:

Since 280

What we don’t see is a sustained increase, however; Twitter users are making more of the character limits, but still not going all-out against the new character ceiling.

Length by Industry

Breaking out by industry, we see that politicians, government accounts, and NGOs have made the most of the increased space, followed by healthcare and pharma second, then B2B:

Since 280 By Industry

Until recently, the Fortune 10 hadn’t used the extra space, and B2C companies haven’t done much with the extra character counts either.

Who’s written the longest? Of the top 5% of the longest tweets, we see that government, media, and B2B have written the longest of long tweets (even though their averages may not reflect the occasional 280-character musing):

Who had the most to say?

Even with the top 5% of longest tweets, we only see one group crossing into the 200+ zone. Everyone else, either via habit, legacy, or self-imposed restraint, has hewed closer to the old 140-character limit.

Does Length Impact Engagement?

As the cliche goes, size isn’t everything. What of engagement? Do longer tweets create more engagement?

The answer, surprisingly, is yes:

Engagement Rates by Industry

When we examine by industry, across the board, engagement rates rise with lengthier tweets.

Examining content types, we see a similar pattern – across different media formats, longer posts tend to create more engagement:

Engagement Rates by Content Type

Does that mean we should immediately begin crafting longer tweets? Not necessarily – but as we create content, if we have the opportunity to provide more value in more characters, we should do so.

In the End, Value Matters Most

Create valuable content on Twitter (and every social network) and users will respond with their approbation and action. Whether 140 characters, 280 characters, or an entire novel, creating and giving value is still the most viable long-term strategy for social media in general, and Twitter specifically.

Christopher S. Penn

Vice President, Marketing Technology

Methodology

SHIFT Communications extracted 3.8 million tweets since September 1, 2017 across a sample of 9,295 accounts, from individual influencers to major corporations. Accounts needed at least 300 followers to be included.

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