Actually, 280-Character Tweets Are Good

December 11, 2017

12:20 pm

Remember when AirPods first debuted and we all joked about how they’d fall in the toilet? Or when everyone used to complain every two months about the newest Facebook newsfeed tweak back in 2012? Looking back, those insta-controversies don’t seem to have left much of an impact. Facebook has market dominance and so do AirPods.

In fact, one could make the case that tech consumers enjoy getting riled up about a new change even when it’s really for the best. That case would be bolstered with the news that one of Twitter’s most controversial 2017 tweaks — allowing users to write tweets of up to 280 characters rather than just 140 — is paying off.

They Get More Likes and Retweets

SocialFlow data mined from tens of thousands of tweets and covered by Buzzfeed reveals that, while 280-character tweets get a number of link clickthroughs similar to their 140-character counterparts, they’ve been getting noticeably more likes and retweets. People like the longer format, and respond better to it.

Note that the tweets aren’t all exactly 280 characters; They’re just between 140 and 280. This makes sense, as most people are simply completing a thought that would almost fit into 140 characters. Buzzfeed has one caveat before it’s willing to concede that the longer tweet format is a success, however.

“A word of caution: Optimizing for engagement is not always good. Facebook found this out the hard way after its engagement-driven algorithm pushed fake news and polarizing content into its News Feeds ahead of the 2016 US presidential election,” the article notes.

True, true. But Twitter has definitely gotten the results it was looking for, as Apple and Facebook have before it. Maybe next time we’re hit with a major change from our favorite tech company, we should wait a few months before decreeing it anathema.

Of course, if you do want to rush to judgement against a new tech change, I’d certainly recommend taking to Twitter for a few extra-long tweets. They get such good engagement.

Read more about social platforms’ big moves on TechCo 

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Adam is a writer with an interest in a variety of mediums, from podcasts to comic books to video essays to novels to blogging — too many, basically. He's based out of Seattle, and remains a staunch defender of his state's slogan: "sayWA." In his spare time, he recommends articles about science fiction on Twitter, @AdamRRowe

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