Data Shows That Twitter's 280-Character Gamble Is Working

More characters, more retweets.

Twitter users complained vociferously about the character limit increase from 140 to 280 that was announced, but longer tweets are actually receiving double the engagement as shorter ones, according to early data from analytics company SocialFlow.

Tweets over 140 characters long get more retweets and likes. 


SocialFlow analyzed thousands of tweets published during a one-week period between Wednesday, November 29 and Wednesday, December 6 – and the number of clicks, retweets, and likes that they garnered. They found that tweets more than 140 characters were retweeted, on average, 26.52 times each, compared to just 13.71 times for tweets under 140 characters, and liked, on average, 50.28 times, compared to 29.96 times for shorter ones. They found similar increases for click-throughs.

This confirms Twitter’s own data, shared in a blog post in November, that also suggested that with more than 140 characters to play around with, users tweeted more often, and more easily.

Early data from Twitter in November shows Increase in engagement for tweets longer than 250 characters.

Historically, 9% of Tweets in English hit the character limit. This reflects the challenge of fitting a thought into a Tweet, often resulting in lots of time spent editing and even at times abandoning Tweets before sending. With the expanded character count, this problem was massively reduced – that number dropped to only 1% of Tweets running up against the limit.

The blog post concluded this makes it easier for people to express themselves on Twitter - and ultimately, what else is Twitter about than self-expression? So, despite many Twitter users’ initial reactions, looks like this new feature was the right call for the social network. But, as Buzzfeed pointed out when it first reported, clicks aren’t everything.

This just proves that despite everything that we say about “disruption”, the Internet hates new features…until we get used to them, and then we love them.

Related Tags