Twitter has just made a big change to the way tweets work.

From today, Twitter is cutting back on what types of content will use up its 140-character limit.

Now, @names in replies, media attachments (like photos, GIFs, videos, and polls) and quoted Tweets will no longer be counted against the valuable 140 characters that make up a tweet. This allows for richer public conversations that are easier to follow on Twitter and ensures people can attach media to tweets without sacrificing the characters they have to express themselves.

Twitter first announced this update back in May but didn’t quite confirm a date when these changes would reach Twitter’s 300m+ users. However, today the company confirmed the update has been rolled out. 

twitter-update

What’s changed? Full details on Twitter’s 140 character update

This update has been much anticipated by many Twitter users and on their blog, Twitter shared the full details of what’s changed:

  • Replies: When replying to a Tweet, @names will no longer count toward the 140-character count. This will make having conversations on Twitter easier and more straightforward, no more penny-pinching your words to ensure they reach the whole group. [Editor’s note: It appears this update hasn’t quite been rolled out yet]
  • Media attachments: A URL at the end of Tweets generated from attaching photos, a video, GIF, poll, Quote Tweet, or DM deep link will not count towards the character limit (URLs typed or pasted inside the Tweet will be counted towards the character limit as they do today).
  • Retweet and Quote Tweet yourself: We’ll be enabling the Retweet button on your own Tweets, so you can easily Retweet or Quote Tweet yourself when you want to share a new reflection or feel like a really good one went unnoticed.
  • Goodbye, .@: These changes will help simplify the rules around Tweets that start with a username. New Tweets that begin with a username will reach all your followers. (That means you’ll no longer have to use the ”.@” convention, which people currently use to broadcast Tweets broadly.) If you want a reply to be seen by all your followers, you will be able to Retweet it to signal that you intend for it to be viewed more broadly.

twitter_may24

How ‘new’ tweets are displayed

The diagram below, shared by Twitter on their dev blog, shows the high-level change to Tweets:

tweet-structure

This diagram shows that when displayed to users, @mentions, URLs and media will all appear outside of the tweet itself, leaving a full 140 characters to play with when composing the text for your tweet.

Also, when a tweet is posted in reply to another account, the name will be displayed in a format similar to below graphic, giving the feel of a threaded conversation (when a Tweet is in reply to multiple people, the name of the person whom the author is directly replying to should be prioritized):

tweet-reply

5 Ways to Make Full Use of Twitter’s 140 Characters

1. Provide more context in replies

One huge benefit of this update is the fact that user @names will no longer count against your 140 characters. Now, whenever you start a tweet in reply to another user, you still have room to say everything you wanted to in your tweet, without having to consider the length of their Twitter handle.

This opens up more space to provide additional details that previously may have taken a couple of tweets. For example, if you’re responding to a customer service question, you could share your reply in 140 characters, but also add a GIF saying “Thanks for reaching out” or a screencast video to further explain how to fix their support issue.

2. Utilize visuals more often

Visuals are a great way to stand out on Twitter. Studies have shown that visual and media attachments on tweets are a big factor in boosting engagement and retweets. One study by Twitter found that photos average a 35% boost in Retweets and videos get a 28% boost:

However, until now, it’s been tricky to convey the message you’d like in your tweet text and also include a media attachment in 140 characters.

When these changes are rolled out, Twitter users will be able to utilize the full 140 characters to share their copy and still include media, without infringing on that limit. For marketers, this means more opportunity to include stunning visuals, videos, product demos, and more within our tweets. For customer support teams, it also provides the chance to share additional content such as screenshots and screencasts to help customers with their support tickets.

3. No more need for the .@ to begin tweets

These changes bring an end to a long-standing Twitter peculiarity where tweets that began with usernames were visible only to users who followed both the person tweeting and the person named. This lead to many users beginning conversations or tweets that mention other users with a ‘.’ before the @name, for example:

tweet

This quirk has always been a little confusing for some of Twitter’s users, both new and old. And Jack Dorsey hopes this change will help to make Twitter a bit easier to grasp: “Unfortunately those rules are hidden, and then they find out later,” Dorsey said to The Verge. “So then they have to learn this weird syntax that kind of looks janky. So we want to take that away first and foremost to remove some of the confusing aspects of the service.”

4. Quote yourself to share longer thoughts

It’s become fairly common to break up a tweet into a couple of sections to fully elaborate and share thoughts. However, with Twitter’s quote option, you can share two tweets that are intertwined and easy to follow – meaning users won’t have to scroll in the timeline of visit your profile to see the first part of your tweet. This gives you 280 characters to play with.

How does it work? Simply share your first tweet, and then quote that tweet and add the rest of your message in the 140 characters available to you in the second tweet.

5. Opportunity for better conversation

Twitter, at its heart, is all about conversation and connecting with others. One of the most important factors in this update is that we now have the opportunity for better conversation on the platform. With usernames not counting against character counts, we can fully embrace the 140 characters available to us to express ourselves.

Previously, having a conversation with two or more participants could become a little difficult as usernames could take up anywhere from 5-20+ characters, leaving little room to get your thoughts across.

In an interview about these changes and how they’ll benefit conversations on Twitter, Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, told The Verge:

“Generally, we want to make sure we’re encouraging a whole lot more conversations on Twitter. This is the most notable change we’ve made in recent times around conversation in particular, and around giving people the full expressiveness of the 140 characters. I’m excited to see even more dialog because of this.”

How this update affects Buffer

Here at Buffer, we’re keen to ensure everything works as it should when Twitter roll these changes out. The updates have a significant impact on tweets, and we’re working to have these changes in place when Twitter open these character count adjustments up to the public.

Over to you

It’s incredibly exciting to see these changes come to Twitter and I can’t wait to see how everyone begins to make the most of their 140 characters alongside all the great media-based content that’s shared on Twitter.

I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on these updates in the comments below: What are you most excited about? Will these changes affect how you use Twitter? I’d love to continue the conversation with you. 

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Written by Ash Read

Content crafter at Buffer. I’m fascinated by storytelling, entrepreneurship, and travel. When I’m not writing, you’ll usually find me on a football pitch or basketball court.

  • This is great news for us all! No more trying to cut words out and still get the message across. I’ve been looking forward to this rolling out on Twitter since it was first announced in May. Thanks Ash and all Bufferoos for the timely update and I’m looking forward to using the additional characters in my Buffer too! Happy Monday and I’ll be sharing this with my network today! 🙂

  • charleslmauro

    It would be very helpful if you could produce an example of a tweet in prior system and then reformat and update in new system but make is simple and clear. Your current example is fragmented and difficult to understand….Just a thought.

    CM

  • mcsf23

    It’ll be interesting to see some metrics of performance in longer tweets – I think shorter tweets will continue to dominate engagement especially when paired with higher quality images/video.

  • This is great news! I’m looking forward to easier conversations with people. It’ll also be helpful that images/videos won’t bite into the 140.

  • FYI @replies still count towards the 140 characters. This change hasn’t been rolled out yet. Per the Twitter Dveloper community forums the changes to @replies and conversations will be rolling out “in the coming months.”

    Today’s rollout only impacts media attachments and quote tweets. 🙂

  • Looking forward to richer text to support images and urls that NO LONGER count to 140 characters. Woot, woot!

  • Emilio Cordiel

    I’m excited to hear that images and usernames won’t be counted against 140 characters. That never really made sense to me. However the quoting yourself is ridiculous. Twitter’s next update should consist of a read more option for tweets that only displays 140 characters and if you are interested enough to read more, you simply select the read more or show more or just plain more button.

  • Gary Sweetman

    Looks good, but would be better to have URLs not counting either when sharing or linking to external content, and not just direct attachments.

    Good to see the back of .@ though, always thought that was a bit daft!

    • URL’s counting too would be cool, but the opportunities for spamming would be rife. Imagine tweets just full of long lists of URL’s.

      Unless only the first URL didn’t count towards the 140 character limit and any subsequent URL’s did. Then it would work I guess!

      • Gary Sweetman

        Good point about those abusing the system, I was thinking of genuine content shares so would also be happy for it to be limited to one link

  • chsweb

    Gonna’ have to recalculate the ROI-per-character for eCommerce Tweets and Twitter Cards 🙂

  • Great news, looking forward to enjoy this.

  • Shelley

    This is a positive move by Twitter and may even encourage me to fall back in love with Twitter. Because of the limitations and quirks, I found Twitter getting very ‘shouty’ and full of nonsense # which means I use the platform far less than I use to.

  • Now Twitter isn’t magician anymore, it doesn’t turn pictures into characters, and we are delighted with that!

  • fjcaceres

    I wish the dot@ ( .@) rule would have been kept, because starting a twitt with just @ was a way to almost send a Direct Message ( DM ) to those that have not opened their DM to everybody . How? If I do a @somebody this somebody will receive a mention and when he checks it because of their ego – who hasn’t, he / she will know I am trying to connect . With the new rules all my followers will know I am trying to reach @somebody, instead of only those that follow @somebody and @me

  • Goode news! Better for those who have friends with big names and long URL sites.

  • Waitttt. Are people’s back and forth conversations through @replies going to show up in my stream? Are my endless replies to my BFF going to show up in other peoples’ streams? That sounds AWWWWFUL! Is that really how it’s going to work?!

  • Dan Walter

    Hasn’t proven true for me.

  • Märketing

    It definitely makes keeping up with the conversations easier. The self-quote bit sounds like a potential problem because people may start thinking they can express themselves as they can with Facebook or Google Pl…, erm, yeah never mind. Just Facebook. Anyhow, mostly a positive update! Will be looking closely to Twitter interactions in the upcoming period.

  • Now Twitter has updated characters in Tweets for better readability.

  • Ash,

    Awesome to hear! I’m a big fan of Twitter and it has always bothered me how my word count was cut down by some URLs, and that’s when I’ve already shortened it!

    I like the fact that there will be no more word limits on replies (this isn’t rolled out yet?), sometimes I enjoy some conversations on Twitter and always feel a limited. On the other hand, I don’t know about broadcasting all my replies, as a private person I expect my PMs to be private. Most of them that is.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Cheers,
    Anh

  • Joe Lean

    Still waiting to see all these changes. Can see that images, GIFs & polls no longer count towards character count, but @names in replies still are counting for me, and not seen the change with the “@username” Vs “.@username” either.

    And why haven’t they also removed URLs from counting towards character count? That’s always been the biggest issue for me.

  • Joe Lean

    It seems to me there’s still a bit of uncertainty over the exact nature of the changes… This article says the replying to mulitple usernames and their handles not counting is only something reported on by The Verge, and also says the “.@” convention has only been proposed. Anyone at Buffer want to clarify..? Also worth mentioning video included in the rich media…

    http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/twitter-fixes-its-biggest-flaw-longer-tweets-finally-rolled-out-1582289

  • Scott Duncan

    Great article! Well, I’m quite excited about the username not being included in the 140-character limit of Twitter. Due to limited characters, we can’t fully convey the thoughts we want to share so it’s a big thing. I don’t think these changes would affect how I usually use Twitter because these changes are what we are all looking for and that’s a good thing.

  • commoad

    Im seeing the @names still count, but notice other users have gotten around this by the number of names on their tweets. Anyone know how to set this?

    • Mtish

      Same here, in feb 2017

  • Mtish

    It’s Feb 2017 and mine still count the @ names in my replies. However it seems to be working fine for some others. Is there a setting or other criteria evading me?

  • Shawn Wood

    DUDE! I am so excited right now after reading this! Thaaaaankkk you!

  • David K.

    There is now Tweetypad too! Tweetypad is a new Twitter companion that let’s you post the full 140 characters on Twitter than places a hyperlink to a “visitor post” that let’s a viewer of your tweet click to view the rest of your unlimited post. It has a great user interface on the Web AND a mobile app for iOS and Android. In addition, it acts as an aggregator to let you post to Facebook, LinkedIn and Tumblr.
    This is a link to a sample post: https://twitter.com/dkleinTP/status/834935498703519744
    Here are the links to their website and mobile apps. Try and Enjoy!
    http://bit.ly/Tweetypad_Website
    http://bit.ly/TweetypadFree_iPhone

    http://bit.ly/TweetypadFree_Android

  • It is nice to see that Twitter is on the way to making itself even better than it was before. My only regret is having not been involved longer on this platform as it is an amazing way of building a network of raving fans who can become clients when the time is right.