What a 280 character limit means for Twitter video content

When a 35,000 character tweet was posted earlier this week you would be forgiven for thinking it was the Twitter hierarchy's way of sticking two fingers up to those criticising the doubling of the character limit.

As it turned out, the ruse was the work of two pranksters who were temporarily banned for their exploits. It followed the widespread coverage of a hack that enabled people to switch to 280 characters even if they weren’t part of the official test group.

As of this week, that’s no longer necessary as the 280 character limit has been rolled out to all accounts.

The move has received a mixed reception, with predictable comments bemoaning the loss of brevity - a reaction Twitter had anticipated, citing the 'emotional attachment' to 140 characters when it first introduced to the changes to a test group back in September.

However, among the test group Twitter found that when the novelty of longer tweets had worn off (it certainly hasn’t among everyone else as some of the examples below show), only 5% of tweets were above 140 characters.

Justifying the move, Twitter explained in a blog post that historically 9% of tweets hit the character limit (clearly most people wrote with far more brevity than I did) whereas that dropped to 1% when the limit was increased to 280.


So what are the potential impacts on this for posting video content?

Well, the first thing to learn is that uploading a video to Twitter doesn’t contribute towards the character limit – a restriction that was removed in 2016 and hasn’t been revived with the longer character limit. So you can post 280 characters and a video (or image) if you are inclined to do so.

Embedding a video from a third party – such as from YouTube – will count towards the limit.

All major social networks, Twitter included, have been shifting towards video content for some time – largely because of the greater monetisation possibilities around video adverts (seen an advert play before your Twitter video recently? Yeah, that).

So it is unlikely that this latest move will negatively impact the posting of video content, or lead to fewer engagements with native videos posted on Twitter.

Indeed, it could have a positive impact because people’s feeds will contain more text than before, and videos will stand out as more eye-catching.

Despite the mixed reaction, Twitter has taken these steps because they want to create a more engaged user-base than they have at present.

'In addition to more tweeting, people who had more room to tweet received more engagement likes, retweets, @mentions), got more followers, and spent more time on Twitter,' it said.

If that increased engagement transpires, then those who have invested time in building their presence on the network will surely benefit from this latest development.

Nathan Coyne
By Nathan Coyne