The changes, which will be rolled out globally over the coming months, are as follows:
• Media attachments, including photos and videos, will no longer count toward the character limit.
• @names in reply to Tweets will be removed from the count.
• People will now be able to retweet and quote tweet themselves, enabling them to resurface any of their previous Tweets and add new commentary.
• Any new tweet beginning with an @name will be seen by all followers.
According to the company, the simplified tweet rules will make conversations faster and more intuitive for people who come to Twitter everyday and those who are new to the service.
“One of the biggest priorities for this year is to refine our product and make it simpler,” says Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO. “We’re focused on making Twitter a whole lot easier and faster. This is what Twitter is great at – what’s happening now, live conversation and the simplicity that we started the service with.”
The news comes as the social media platform, which celebrated its 10th birthday this year, battles on to keep users and advertisers engaged. User growth has stalled and it faces issues over usability.
Earlier this year, Twitter announced changes to its timeline, which enabled people to see a mixture of live and older tweets, in a bid to increase user engagement. According to the company, the reaction to the enhanced timeline has been positive with less than 2% of people opting out, and has increased engagement from people on Twitter with significantly more tweets, retweets, replies and likes.
“We’re not giving up on the idea of Twitter being in the moment. That concept of brevity, speed and live conversation – being able to think of something and put it out to the world instantly – that’s what’s most important,” adds Dorsey.
“We’re always going to look for opportunities to make Tweets a lot more expressive, and enable people to say what they want to say. As long as things are fast, easy, simple and expressive, we’re going to look at what we can do to make Twitter a better experience.”
Brand opportunities and challenges
The changes will be welcomed by brands, according to Daniel Price, head of social operations at creative digital agency Lost Boys.
“One of the most consistent challenges brands see with the platform is around character limits – it can be a frustrating process putting together engaging copy and adverts with a moveable amount of characters to work with, so this is a nice step from their side. Let’s hope this is the start of a larger move towards simplifying how Twitter works – which will be key to its growth,” he says.
Not everyone is as positive, however. Robin Grant, global managing director at social media agency We Are Social believes Twitter needs to make more significant changes if it wants to attract more users and advertisers.
“While these changes will no doubt generate headlines of a move towards a ‘long form Twitter’, in reality they’re not going to have a huge impact for the platform. The decision to allow any new Tweet beginning with an @name to be seen by all followers will be reasonably significant for some brands as the .@ mention has caused confusion with new users. Given that tweets sent in reply will still follow the same rules as before, however, it’s still a fairly minor change.
“Twitter is still struggling and is in serious need of emulating Facebook’s success when it comes to both user growth and retention. While these changes are positive on balance they still feel too small to make a real difference – it’s going to take a lot more than doling out a few extra characters to turn around Twitter’s poor form in the long run.”