While other social platforms are pushing into the realms of AI and other forward thinking initiatives, for some reason Twitter seems to have a bunch of 6 year olds making decisions. The latest ground breaking idea has been to increase the character limit for a tweet from 140 to 280, you can imagine the board room with the pensive faces and “deep” thinking going on, only the silence is broken by some wise soul who blurts out…
Idea man: “How about more characters?!”
Yes man: “I like it, but how many more?”
Yes man: “How about twice as many?”
Idea man:”Brilliant! I will summon the engineers. Let the stakeholders know we’ve figured it out.”
Seriously. I use Instagram daily and every time I go on there I am being served fresh new content relating to my usage patterns and preferences. They’re not adding more filters, although that was the selling point in the first place, they are thinking outside of that box and making progress. Yes they are copying their competitors but frankly who isn’t, it’s a sound strategy to keep up with your competitors. Along with that though they are breaking the mould and stakeholders are reaping the rewards.
I only use Twitter for 2 things; joining the conversation during and event or TV show, or complaining to companies.
When a TV show is on and they have a hashtag it is easy to join the conversation and drop one liners, a creative endeavour where you try to form your thoughts into a short quip. Sometimes I’ll come up with something I am happy with and other times I can’t break it down to 140 characters, and that is ok and just means I have nothing to say. Pushing to 280 characters just means there will be more room for nonsense comments that haven’t been nearly as carefully curated.
Complaining to companies is my other joy, I know I can call a company out on Twitter and they will in most cases magically become more responsive than they would be through their other customer care channels. Making it public means I the consumer is held accountable for my approach and the company is held accountable for their response. The 140 character limit means we can have a conversation back and forth to resolve a situation without either party ranting on and on regardless of the character limit.
These 2 uses might not be the right answer for everyone but then I’m not being paid by Twitter to figure this out for them. They have the data, and maybe they’re reading it in such a way that it supports their original hypothesis. That echo chamber thinking and seeking data that supports your assumptions is what sinks companies. Twitter needs to let go of what it started out as and let the usage data drive their development, it could be very different but that should be the roadmap they build for themselves.
280 characters is possibly the weakest idea going and I’m embarrassed for Twitter to see that it is even in the news at all. That just shows how meaningless anything Twitter does is. For such a big player they are making ripples when they should be making waves.