The Challenge Of Tweaking Twitter


It is my belief the fundamental charm of Twitter is as much its brevity as its immediacy. Writing in 140 characters or less has become an art form for users. A skill. The national news, entertainment, weather and sports media can’t get enough daily Tweets to put up and across their screens and sites.

The powers-to-be at Twitter have floated the idea in the media this week of doing what they apparently have already been allowing on Private (Direct) Messages since July…a 10,000 character limit where users simply click a link to expand a Tweet and see the rest of the Tweet’s text.

Why change? Why take such a risk alienating users?

Well…to turn a profit for the first time might be at the top of the list. It appears growth has slowed and its stock has subsequently declined some 40 percent from where it stood last summer.

Twitter – and some in the media – claim at least part of its user base truly want this. They want to eliminate having to design “Tweetstorms” where users are forced to send out multiple Tweets to get one thought or message or whatever out.

My guess is the powers-to-be wish to make room for advertisers to more easily use the service. And make more money.

I had two “runs” on Twitter. One several years ago when it first came out and one a couple of years back. I didn’t stick with it either time for a variety of reasons. But in those moments of participation I did get a big kick out of the challenge of sending out a well-crafted, brief message.

So why post about a service I don’t use now? Because as a Journalism Grad (albeit in a galaxy far, far away) and having a continued interest in all things media I am eager to see what happens if this comes to pass. So many media organizations show Tweets.

Reporting Tweets has become a way of life.

Now, if the character limit is expanded to this extent and someone sends out a gigantic Tweet someone at each of these media outlets will have to parse through it all, deciding what to pull out…and put out.

When quoting Tweets now there are no editorial decisions to be made. Sure…a chance the user saying post-Tweet they were taken out of context. Some users even say someone took over their account when things don’t go favorably. But the point is just like fast food, the media can pretty much take a Tweet and run with it. Unlike fast food, at absolutely no cost.

What will happen if this actually happens will fundamentally have to change the way media reports on Twitter activity. They’ll have to read the entire Tweet, “edit” it, etc. and at that point you then have yet another example of the media dictating what is newsworthy and what is not. And in fairness to all Twitter users, a great case for saying if they send out one exceeding the current limit and it isn’t shown in its entirety they were quoted out of context because…drum roll here…their entire Tweet wasn’t presented.

I don’t particularly enjoy being bombarded with Tweets as part of my evening news, entertainment, weather and sports coverage. But I do think doing this will rob Twitter of its very soul.

I wonder how the majority of users really feel?

I will be interested to see how the media reacts if this goes down…and the character limit on Twitter goes up.



About sportsattitudes

I'm Bruce. Born, raised and still outside the City of Brotherly Love. Managed (so far) to visit a dozen of our United States and Canada (twice). Addicted from birth to Television/Movies/Sports. Took three years of French and got credit for two of 'em.
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24 Responses to The Challenge Of Tweaking Twitter

  1. I’ve always hate the character limit. It has forced me to learn to edit myself. It seems Twitter is becoming more like Facebook.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Laura says:

    It does seem like its Twitter versus Facebook and of course the ad money is important.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m an old time journalism major too and I’ve never even tried Twitter. I have a Facebook blog page but not many followed there. I was thinking I’d add Twitter this year but now I don’t know…and I’m just not sure how I would use Pinterest for my blog. Open to ideas…

    Liked by 3 people

    • Diane, when I was on Twitter I would simultaneously send posts to it but really just made it more accessible for people following me instead of via email subscriptions to the site. In the end while Twitter didn’t hurt or was hard to use it didn’t really grow my audience. My already-Twitter followers liked it just fine but that was about it. I’ve not used Facebook or Pinterest. I am on LinkedIn and list my blogs on my contact info. Maybe a writing or editing gig some day, who knows?!

      Liked by 3 people

  4. belinda o says:

    I was a journalism major too and ultimately worked PR for a long time — even now I’m freelancing with some Facebook stuff (and blogging) for small businesses. Twitter I don’t know that well but it seems its beauty was always its brevity. As you know broadcast media loves that, it provides material that fits their time constraints, and even other social media formats can easily tap into it…but if it’s losing steam, I suppose as a business they need to do something. I just think it maybe should be something else. Don’t ask me what ’cause I don’t know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Belinda, I think honesty is the best policy. If Twitter just came out and said look, we gotta expand so we can get ad money and balance our books that would look much better than trying to paint this as “we are making these changes because YOU asked for it.” As I noted in a prior post that is one of my neon signs screaming in the night something bad is forthcoming because I didn’t ask for it! I don’t know what else they can do either.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I have a couple of Twitter accounts and am ashamed to say that I still struggle with it. With the exception of a few people that I know personally I find it difficult to engage on Twitter because it seems everyone is talking and really no one is listening other than as you indicate here the media reports. FB, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and others, it’s just so cumbersome and I understand it’s a necessary evil but boy I long for the simpler days. And even with the tools that allow simultaneous posts, my issue with those: are they real or just manufactured re-posts, again because of the need to talk? I dunno, I just don’t know.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Steph, I initially got a kick out of trying to craft a quick, intelligent Tweet from time to time. I also enjoyed following some TV behind-the-scenes folks because sometimes you would learn something otherwise not known about…well…behind-the-scenes stuff. But ultimately I just couldn’t keep up with the pace and sifting through the “noise” and I found myself paying more attention to the next Tweet than what I sat down to watch, etc. And no doubt, there are “robotics” at work on all these platforms re-sending stuff.

      Liked by 2 people

      • “Noise” that’s the word I was searching for. I think that’s what bothers me about social media in general but specifically Twitter. The Tweets come in so fast and furious it almost makes me dizzy. But I have found that when I take my time (I created several lists) I can learn quite a bit from those whom I follow. I can’t say this without dating myself but in some situations I’m not thrilled with robotics because while they can make life a little easier it takes away from the authenticity. Automated phone systems are testimony to the fact that all it does is add to the aggravation of the customer by making them jump through multiple hoops by using complicated menus that never offer what the customer is seeking but I digress. It must be Adult onset ADD because I have the hardest time focusing on some of this stuff.

        Liked by 2 people

    • I totally get it Steph. When on Twitter I felt overwhelmed trying to keep attention on my feed. An example would be a sporting event. I would find myself reading, creating and responding to Tweets about a game and wasn’t giving the game primary attention. Ridiculous. Same with TV shows. And even when no viewing was involved Tweets just kept on flowing…and many really didn’t add to the “quality of life.” It wasn’t like I was following a ton of people either. At least I can say I tried it…twice!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. spearfruit says:

    I have a Twitter account specifically for my blog posts. I thought it might help grow my audience. I am not sure if it has or not. I will keep it for now, but I keep reminding myself why I have my blog – not for growing the audience, but for my own personal reasons. Call me old, but the whole social media is not important to me. About 6 months ago, I deleted everything on my Facebook page and have not logged into it since. Thanks Bruce, a good post, I enjoyed reading it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed Spear. I guess one thing I left out is I’m happy with the audience I have. I was at the time just sending the posts over to Twitter because I had folks there who were more likely to read them off their feed. I like blogging for the WP community but I like blogging for me too!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I am using social media more these days than in the past, I am probably on most platforms but I come to love Instagram more because it is streamlined visual, different & easy to use. I also use Pinterest for the inspiration, and visuals as well but it can be time consuming. I use Twitter and I like the limited word feed, I think they are crazy to change format. With anything in technology these days you have to be different in order to survive.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer, I figured in your line of work you likely were very experienced in a lot of social media areas. As an Apple user I am of course very familiar with change…just for the sake of change sometimes. Twitter needs to make money and if they don’t they go away someday…so this is likely change for the very sake of survival. Agreed.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. OneDizzyBee says:

    I love the 140 limit. It forces you to think about what you want to convey, and do it concisely. I have a blog for my 10k word thoughts. Or Facebook. I can see myself abandoning Twitter if 10k becomes reality. I’m there for the brevity.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dizzy Bee, thanks for your succinct comment. Short and to the point, just like we agree Twitter should be. I enjoyed the challenge of the Tweet format. Great line – I have a blog for my 10K word thoughts. Brevity rules.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I think this is a bad move. The narrow word limit was the challenge – to create cool wit with few words – and do it well enough to get noticed.
    I really hate that stupid tweet banner running across some new shows, though. Usually it’s a bunch of uninformed show-offs here – like those kids that jump in front of any camera available – just for attention and to see themselves on TV. Often it’s the same dullards nightly. UGH In addition, I don’t watch the news in order for someone to read tweets from an unknown person who isn’t an authority or actually saying something valid.
    People keep telling me I should tweet to get the blog more attention, but there’s just so much time – and as you said, if you are tweeting, you aren’t really there and being part of something
    Great post

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s why I quit it…twice. The return on investment definitely wasn’t there for my blogging. Once I also realized my attention was being completely diverted away from what I was Tweeting about in the first place…that was it for me. I would be constructing a Tweet in my head…instead of having my head in my show or sport.

      Liked by 1 person

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