PR and marketing pros now have more room to express themselves on Twitter.
On Thursday, Twitter announced that it had changed the ways users reply to one another on Twitter: Instead of counting the “@username” in a tweet’s character limit, replies now accommodate 140 characters’ worth of text, with usernames embedded above the tweet in a thread.
The platform tweeted the change:
We’re changing replies so that you have all 140 characters to express yourself.
— Twitter (@Twitter) March 30, 2017
In a blog post, Twitter also explained the elements of the new layout:
With this change, we’ve simplified conversations in a few ways:
- Who you are replying to will appear above the Tweet text rather than within the Tweet text itself, so you have more characters to have conversations.
- You can tap on “Replying to…” to easily see and control who’s part of your conversation.
- When reading a conversation, you’ll actually see what people are saying, rather than seeing lots of @usernames at the start of a Tweet.
It’s now easier to follow a conversation, so you can focus on what a discussion is about, and who is having it. Also, with all 140 characters for your replies, you have more room to participate in group conversations.
The announcement is another stage in Twitter’s attempt to entice more users to use the platform.
The move is part of a broader effort at Twitter to go “beyond 140” characters and give people more room to tweet without dramatically altering the company’s signature 140-character limit. For a while in late 2015 and early 2016, the company considered expanding the character limit to 10,000 characters. But that plan fell through.
In October 2015, Twitter announced it was looking for ways to do away with its 140-character limit, and in May 2016, the company announced a plan to implement it, which included deleting “@username” replies. Twitter has already made it so media elements—including pictures and GIFs—don’t count toward a tweet’s character limit.
Many regular Twitter users weren’t pleased with the change, but Slate’s Will Oremus reported that in order to survive, the platform must change to become more user-friendly to others:
It’s well-established that Twitter power-users hate change. It’s equally well-established, among those who follow the ever-struggling company closely, that it must evolve in order to survive. A new format for replies isn’t going to singlehandedly save Twitter, of course. (Deeper problems include harassment and the struggles of its advertising business.) But modernizing and simplifying its interface is essential to make the service more intuitive to new users, who tend to find the network confusing and overwhelming.
Though many worry that the change will encourage spammy behavior (you might not want to add 40 people to a thread about your new product or blog post), brand managers can use the move to better respond to consumers with questions or concerns.