Three hundred million people use Twitter.
Everyone from celebrities like Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) and Katy Perry (@katyperry) to athletes like Cristiano Ronaldo (@cristiano) and Shaquille O’Neal (@SHAQ) to President Obama (@potus) )and Presidential candidate Donald Trump (@realdonaldtrump) to business tycoons like Richard Branson (@richardbranson) and Marc Benioff (@benioff).
And then there are the many of us who aren’t quite so famous but who also use Twitter a lot.
Twitter is where we go to share a quick thought, 140 characters and we’re done.
The place on the web where we can point out something that’s going on, as in “look what’s happening here or over there.”
To say, “Get a load of what he said” with a retweet. To tell our followers know that we liked something with a symbol (is it a heart, now)? Or to ask or answer a question with just a few words.
We also consume content on Twitter. We hit the app to see what’s going on in our self-curated, self-selected communities. Twitter provides a bird’s eye view of the world in a way that nothing else does, the 140 character limit insures that that’s the case.
Twitter works because it’s light and it doesn’t demand much of its users, but provides an experience that’s generous and rich.
Don’t Dilute the Tweet, Jack
Change the 140 character limit on Twitter to something more (are you really flirting with 10,000?) and you dilute its value. That can’t be your goal.
Besides, there are already great properties for deep-dives and longer reads. There’s Medium (ask @ev about it if you’re not familiar) for original content.
There’s Flipboard for curated consumption of third party content. Those properties are great at what they do, we don’t need them to be cloned.
But we do need Twitter to stay exactly like it is, or at least how it was about five months ago.
Reset the Tweet Button
What happened then? Twitter decided to redesign its tweet button, which makes it difficult to see how many people, and who specifically, had tweeted about an article that you’re reading.
Someone at Twitter wrote a blog post full of mumbo-jumbo about why it had to be done. But, come on, at the cost of engagement?
You see, as I went to hit the tweet button after reading an article, I wanted to see who else had shared it. They might be someone I want to follow on Twitter. We might find the same kind of things interesting.
And while I’m no data scientist, I’m pretty sure there’s an algorithm that addresses that kind of behavior, it can help predict clicks, give you an idea of what kind of ads might work best, and it could help Twitter make more money. In case you’re not familiar, Facebook makes it easy to understand.
Not just that, but it might also lead a reader from outside of Twitter into Twitter to see what else someone is tweeting. That would be good, right?
Put it Back, Jack
Put the old tweet button back, Jack, or at least add the same functionalities to the new one. It might cause more people to come to Twitter and to engage while they are there. That’s the goal right?
The 10,000 characters, by the way, might do just the opposite, like cause some of your most loyal customers to tune out, or at least not to tune in as often.
I don’t want that. I don’t think you do either.
Wrecking Twitter isn’t the Answer
When you wrote that you didn’t start Twitter with a 140 restriction, implying that changing it wouldn’t be sacrilegious, consider this: maybe Twitter was a happy accident or a miracle of some sort.
After all, the 140 characters were just enough to give voice to the citizens of the Twitter revolution. That’s power a longer form doesn’t have.
Leave Twitter alone, Jack.
Ask your community for help if you don’t know what to do next. Raising Twitter will be a much harder job than hatching it. Just ask anyone who has ever has a kid.