Is the 280 Character Count a Sign of Twitter’s Nervousness?



Silicon-valley giant Twitter has never turned a profit in the 11 years of its consequential existence. The real hit seemed to be when the company reported a further 8% decline in its first-quarter revenue to $548m in July this year. Advertisers of Twitter saw waning value in the social media giant and ad revenue for the three-month period fell 11% at $474m.

At the time though, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey celebrated the report saying the number of daily active users on the social media had gone up to 328 million for the fourth consecutive quarter. He said the number of users went up 14% compared to the same quarter of the previous year. Clearly, the company knows that it is up against some strong currents. Competing with companies like Facebook and Google makes it a bigger challenge for Twitter.

Noticing the lowering interest of its subscribers, Twitter gave some flexibility to the character limit by allowing images and pictures in addition to the character count. The @replies were also excluded from the count. Things have not changed despite these efforts. People are not staying on the social media platform long enough. English-speaking users, who make a bulk of their subscribers, are posting lesser on the social media platform. This is with reference to Twitter’s blog post mentioning that the testing of 280 characters comes from the fact that Japanese, Chinese, and Korean languages are more space-efficient than others.

News that Twitter will now be testing the possibility of a 280-character count is a sign of nervousness. Twitter is trying to introduce a much higher character count for Tweets but fans of the crisp networking platform are not really thrilled.

Some responses on Twitter to this increase in character count came like this:


Twitter has to find ways to make itself profitable. Currently, that’s what the company needs to focus on. It is not that the investors are expecting a lot from the company’s growth. It has to fight for ad revenue against strong competitors like Facebook and Google. While the latter has always shown value for advertiser money, Facebook has also made itself profitable in the recent times. Clearly, Twitter needs to move that way soon.

Increasing the character count might not be good for its regular visitors. However, there are hopes that it would encourage more users to visit the platform more frequently. Additionally, it would benefit brands, which tend to face constraints while using Twitter as an integral part of their promotional mix.

Investors are ready to wait on this move. Twitter stock went up 2.17% yesterday by USD .36. Seeing the initial responses on Twitter, it looks like this one could pick up soon enough. Here are some Tweets from users who received the 280 character limit right after the announcement.

Speaking of the new test, the company acknowledged the emotions of those who have been tweeting for years with 140 characters. “But we tried this, saw the power of what it will do, and fell in love with this new, still brief, constraint,” the company said.

Twitter does have greater challenges to deal, apart from the character limit. Two of the key issues are that of maintaining an active user base, and generating value for investors.


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