A year ago, Twitter expanded its tweet limit from 140 to 280, doubling the amount of characters that could be used in a single tweet. When Twitter announced the change, many were worried that it would change the platform too much and tweets would just become too wordy. However, Twitter said that would not be the case. Now the company has released some data about how the change has impacted Tweeters and how it hasn’t, and it turns out the changes haven’t been as drastic as people once thought they would be.
With the longer tweets, people are becoming more polite and using more “pleases” and “thank yous”. There has been a 54% increase in the usage of “please” and a 22% increase in “thank you” in the past year. Even though people are adding please and thank you more, it doesn’t mean that the community has a gentler tone. Sentiment can’t be tracked just on these words alone, because they could be part of conversations that still aren’t polite and can also be used sarcastically.
There are fewer abbreviations. Instead of using terms like “gr8,” people are now spelling out “great.” Other words that have stopped becoming abbreviated include sorry and before.
Despite tweets getting longer, Twitter usage is still brief. The most common length is still small. When Twitter limited tweets to 140 characters, the common tweet length was 34 characters, and now that the limit is 280 characters, the common tweet length is just 33. Only 9% of tweets hit the 140 character mark. Since many were used to editing tweets to fit into the character limit, now only 1% of tweets ever hit the 280 character mark.
With the longer tweets, those who use Twitter are becoming more engaged with one another, asking more questions and having more conversations. Tweets that have a question mark are up 30% and tweets are now getting more replies, showing that more people are engaging more often.
The data for this analysis comes from English use on Twitter, but Twitter said that the findings were pretty consistent across the seven different languages that were studied.
One thing that wasn’t measured during the study was threading. Threading is a popular way to express longer thoughts. Threads are a series of connected tweets that tell a longer story, and threading does seem more popular than in past years. These tweets may be the ones that are longer, but that data isn’t available. Even though Twitter hasn’t released this information, tools that help users easily read the threaded tweets, including Thread Reader App, have seen an increase in recent months.