Twitter got 2016 off with a buzz by floating an idea to give users more room to tweet.
A lot more room — as in up to 10,000 characters per tweet.
That would be a huge leap from Twitter. A brand built on the idea of terse, telegraphic communication is looking to give users the opportunity to publish posts the length of some magazine articles on its platform.
The announcement has met with plenty of resistance as well as support.
Count me in the resistance camp. But maybe not for the reasons you might expect.
Sure, I resist change just as much as the next person. Whenever a social media platform introduces some new feature or process, I grumble. When Twitter replaced the “favorite” star with a “like” heart, I grumbled. But I’ve gotten over it and if I want to keep something I see on Twitter for future reference, I heart it.
What bothers me most about Twitter’s possible character expansion is that it could dilute the Twitter brand.
Twitter’s 140-character limit is what has made it stand out from other social media platforms. This is its advantage as a brand — its uniqueness.
But Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey doesn’t constrain his company’s brand positioning to that 140-character function. As he explains in a longer-than-140-character tweet, The essence of Twitter “is its fast, public, live conversational nature,” Dorsey says. “We will always work to strengthen that.”
Maybe so. But in my opinion, if Twitter abandons the 140-character limit, it abandons a defining part of its character. Sure, just because we could post 10,000-character tweets doesn’t mean we would, or must. But the company is extending its brand into a space that is no longer distinctive or differentiating.
And what would we call a 10,000-character post, anyway? “Tweet” implies short, terse and instant. Anything as long as Twitter proposes is more of a song.
Let’s hope it isn’t the brand’s swan song.