How Employees Learn

Dear Twitter: Don’t Change Your Character Count

First it’s the Facebook “dislike” button; could Twitter be the next social media giant to announce a big change? In a September 29tharticle, re/code reported that Twitter is developing a product that would allow users to bypass the usual 140 character limit (to mixed opinions). As if to prove their intentions, Twitter also removed the 140-character limit in direct messaging. While we don’t really know what this product would look or feel like, it would turn Twitter into less of a microblogging site and more of a publishing platform, which could be a total mistake. Here’s why we think Twitter should stay the same.

Images Work Better Than Words

It’s easy to imagine what a Twitterverse without limits would look like, and we’re not sure we like it. That’s because the current character limit often means users skip the text and instead share pictures and video. And, since we know that the brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text, allowing users to swap out their goat memes for long status messages means putting text before images–when it should be the other way around.

Limiting characters also teaches users to learn to distill their message. Lengthy posts and longwinded discussions often mean a lack of engagement. No matter if you use Twitter to follow celeb gossip or share tidbits and tips, a concentrated message means better user engagement, which is simply good eLearning.

The Option to Learn

Unlike it’s wordy cousin Facebook, Twitter puts users in control of what they want to see. Not only can they follow the users they want, but the character limit often forces those users to rely on snippets and links to entice their followers to read more. If that character limit is removed, the average user loses control over picking and choosing which links to follow and which to ignore, since hypothetically all content would be displayed on a user’s feed.

Instead of adding more to a tweet, we suggest adding smarter. You shouldn’t need additional characters if you use them wisely and as a vehicle to show your stuff. The right introduction serves as a method to help learners see what they should choose and where to direct their time and attention. It’s autonomous learning at its finest; something that could be lost should Twitter decide to allow users to bypass character limits and display all copy on feeds.

In fact, the onus is on Twitter to allow users to better filter their feeds so it becomes more personal to what they want to learn–be it industry knowledge, the latest news, or funny cat videos. Twitter is one of the most powerful engines for microlearning when used properly, so to lose that tool would be a shame for the eLearning industry. It’s our humble opinion that Twitter shouldn’t change its character limit, but educate users on how to truly make every character count.