A little while back in this blog we discussed the surprising-not-so-surprising news that Twitter were rolling out a higher character count, first to selected (read “famous” or “important”) users, and then, once all was proven to be hunky-dory, to the rest of us.
This was not a short time in coming or a change without reason. The platform has been troubled for many years now, having failed to monetise its user-base in the way that Facebook has so effectively. Added to this, it has long been overrun by bots, sock-puppets and all sorts of other nefarious, quasi-illegal or just plain irritating accounts which appear to be users but are nothing of the sort, all of which were and are driving users from the site as they drown it in retweeted pleas to click through to sites where details could be harvested, credit card details requested and political views reoriented.
Being unable to effectively police this, the company looked for something else to stem the bleeding, something else which users (including those close to our hearts, those working in London restaurant social media) had tacitly been asking for: more characters. It seemed at the time like a weird move – the raison d’etre of Twitter was always that you were forced into writing something like Haiku, to think about what you were saying so much more than on other platforms – but since the switch many, including this reporter, have been forced to admit that having 280 characters is, well, nice.
It’s not that you have to use them all, but the buffers are so much further away that the fear of crashing into them straight away is gone and a little more description is possible, a little more artistry, a little more (and here’s where restaurant social media can benefit) linkage through to menus, booking pages and other marketing funnel necessities. Has it made the platform better/ Undoubtedly.
Will it save it, long term? Who can say. The death of Twitter has been foretold a thousand times yet as we prepare to enter 2018, it struggles on, buoyed by loyal users, persistent marketeers, legions of bots and of course the most powerful man in the world, who expresses what might-or-might-not be policy via Twitter every day. It’s a weird world we’ve created for ourselves but one things is true: it’s nice to have a little more space to say what you want to say.