280 characters a mistake?

Has Twitter just destroyed their USP by doubling the character count?

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Has Twitter made a mistake by doubling the character count?

By Joe Harker

When businesses make a product they often need a unique selling point, known as a USP. When someone asks "Why does your thing stand out from everything else?" the answer should be to describe your USP.

In the case of Twitter, the 140 character count was it. While other social media sites imposed little to no limit on the amount of content in each post, Twitter's character count limit meant that users could not be too long-winded. Tweets were little snippets of information and opinion that made the user conscious of brevity. Then Twitter went ahead and doubled the character count for everybody.

While some might think that this is an improvement, due to occasional frustration that the character count limits expression, it could also be a curse for the site. The response to everyone being able to tweet in 280 characters has been a mixed bag, with some happy at the changes and others worried that it will ruin Twitter. Some users would have preferred the ability to edit tweets, while others are looking forward to tweeting in more detail rather than trying to condense a message to fit the old limit.

Others would prefer to go back to the 140 character count, with an extension for web browser Google Chrome already released. The extension re-imposes the old character count for Twitter users who want to go back to the way things were. Some like the restrictions as it forces them to be more direct and to the point, which also makes the content shared on the site easy to read and work through.

Twitter are hoping that the move will help users gain more followers and better engage with one another. Perhaps having more characters to play with will help users say what they really want on the social media site, as certain things may have been condensed or unsaid due to lacking the characters.

Naturally the internet responded to the change in the most glorious of ways, by making thousands of jokes. There were plenty of users tweeting song lyrics and jokes that would not fit onto one tweet, and plenty of people joked about being able to say twice as much but having no idea what else to tweet. However, the QI Twitter account tweeted "Brevity is the soul of wit", a Shakespeare quote reminding others to avoid being long winded.

Has Twitter just shot itself in the foot by getting rid of its USP and making it just like the other social media sites, or will the new character count help people better express themselves and engage with other users more often?

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