Recently TweetDeck added a new feature, Deck.ly allows users to post Tweets longer than 140 Characters. Although not the first product to offer this service, it’s connection to the popular TweetDeck means it’s been getting a lot of publicity.
Why 140 characters?
When Twitter was originally devised messages were sent via text. The standard length of a text message is 160 characters. At first there was no strict limit on the length of a Tweet but it would be split into parts if it went over 160. Eventually it was decided that a Tweet’s optimum length would be 140 characters. This allowed for the Tweet plus a user name and colon to fit into a single SMS.
Should we Tweet longer?
I like the discipline that comes with 140 characters, it makes it what it is. Because people are restrictive they get their point accross quickly, it eliminates the possibility of our streams getting swamped by chatterboxes – something I may well be guilty of -and is easily digestible. We all have time to scan a tweet, it’s the equivilant of watching a 30 second video when we may avoid watching something over a minute. The reaction to the question on Facebook was surprising. Although Krishna De agreed with me I was surprised by the many who thought a few extra characters would allow them to communicate better. If a message was limited to 160 characters would it make a big difference in the way we communicate? Die hard Tweeters were adamant that 140 was enough but should we be so rigid? Maybe it is time for a change but how could we determine the optimum length without the SMS restriction that defined it in the first place?
How to Tweet over 140 Characters
Love the idea or loath it the tools are available. If you’re a TweetDeck user upgrade to the newest version to take advantage Deck.ly that allows you to automatically post longer tweets. It simply adds a link to your Tweet that brings users to the full text. If you’re not a TweetDecker Twitlonger does the same thing. All you need to do is log in with Twitter, type your oversized Tweet into the box and post. Just like Deck.ly it adds a link to your post pointing at the full text. The disadvantage of both of these is that they link off site. You would need to make your Tweet very compelling to encourage people to click the link to see the rest of your text. This makes your first 120 characters even more important, make sure you really sell your Tweet so that people will want to see what happens in the end. Is it time for Twitter to rethink the length of a Tweet? What is the optimum Tweet length? Let me know what you think, post your comments below.