A few days ago Jack Dorsey announced that Twitter is thinking of increasing its signature 140 character limit to 10,000. This is likely an attempt to shift the status quo and turn Twitter from a noisy signposting platform into an ecosystem designed to retain sessions with valuable content. The attached article suggests Twitter could become a one-stop shop that attracts readership with trends/conversation and retains people with longer-form, quality content.
Sadly, I do not think this will work. Here's 3 reasons why:
- Long-form content (of ~10k magnitude) does not marry with breaking trends. Twitter's chief USP is real-time news coverage - I do not imagine news-seekers will have the attention span to read 10,000 words in the event of a developing news story. On top of that, by the time it takes to write 10k characters, most stories will be old news.
- More content = less conversation. For businesses, Twitter has become the leading customer service channel. Long-form content will inevitably decrease engagement (i.e. replies/retweets); discontinuing valuable conversations with loyal customers.
- Longer content will further decrease authenticity. An enormous amount of Twitter content is already ghostwritten and therefore inauthentic. I imagine that longer-form content, which requires more time and effort, will mean even more will be outsourced.
Here’s my take: Ultimately, if 10,000 characters was the magic bullet, then Google+ would have been much more popular and more celebrities would publish content on Medium. It isn’t, and they don’t. Unless this format upheaval is just one component of some amazing multimedia integrations (which let’s face it, it very well could be), it looks like a fun idea but a real business gamble from where I’m standing.