I’ve been using Twitter since 2007 when Xbox Live’s Major Nelson (aka Larry Hyrb, Director of Xbox Live Programming) got me to finally tweet something on the night Halo 3 was released. That was back when phone apps were not a thing and you had to send a text message to 40404 if you weren’t at a computer. The length of a text message, 140 characters, was all you had to get your point across. There were no hashtags or links. No @replies yet. We had a fail whale and you could count your followers on your fingers and toes. And it was cool to tweet.
Fast-forward to 2015. Twitter is an app. News media, celebrities, and marketers are the major content providers now. Hashtags are the norm and many companies use it to quell their customer’s public revolt. Selfies are broadcast ’round the world and political careers have begun and ended. Remember when Ashton Kutcher got a million followers before CNN? Now it’s the norm. You can even use your Twitter login to verify who you are for some websites. But one thing has stayed the same. It still is limited to 140 characters.
Direct messaging, which allows anyone to discreetly contact anyone else on Twitter, has expanded its limits but the tweet has not. Should it join longer form content sites like Facebook and Medium and ditch the 140 limit? Maybe, maybe not. If I had Jack Dorsey’s ear I would say no. Well, sort of a no.
Jack, if your listening, here is what I propose. Twitter is fantastic at quickly skimming the vast pipeline of information, selfies, and links until something catches my eye. Adding more characters would slow that down and (in my humble opinion) begin its slow demise. Instead of increasing the character limit, have a spot at the end of the tweet where the link would go and it would not count against it. For the hashtags there would be another spot to input ONE without it counting against the total. If has an image/video, show it. Let me add a photo if there isn’t one. I can input my 140 character description, add a link, hashtag, and photo while keeping it in a nice little package. If we need to know more we click on the link. It keeps it short and simple yet expands it just a little. Can you imagine an unlimited character world where a Kanye West tweet could devour your entire data plan? That is a world that scares me and my wallet.
So what do you think Jack? Can you make that happen?
Sweet John Muehlbauer is the social media director at sitegoals. You can follow him on Twitter here.