It Pays to Be Wordy…And It’s Free!

Miriam Hirschman, December 3, 2017

Twitter jumped into the 2017 holiday season with something new for its 330 million users: the gift of more gab. As of early November, it officially doubled the character limit for a tweet, jumping from 140 to 280 characters.

Reactions so far are split on whether this is a good thing, with some already mourning the loss of creativity forced by the 140-character constraint. However, there is a major hidden benefit to Twitter’s new world of wordy: the way it affects your search results page.

Since August 2015, when someone Googles a term associated with a Twitter account, the search results have included a dedicated space for actual tweets from that account. That’s a win for companies, brands, and people who care about their online presence. It means their voice is right there on the search results page, in a section whose contents they completely control.

With Twitter’s newly doubled character count, we wondered if Google would come along for the ride. Would the Twitter box on the search page double in size? Or would it just cut off the tweet after 140 characters?

The answer? For Twitter boxes featuring the wordier 280-character tweets, the actual box has grown to accommodate the greater length.

This is an incredible branding gift from Twitter and Google, offering even more space in the search results for a brand (or company, or individual) to control and to tell their own story. This is the kind of space brands pay money to have on the search page.

Brands should welcome this gift with open keyboards. They have learned how to be creative in 140 characters; now it’s time to embrace the new challenge to be engaging, yet still pithy, in 280.

What’s more, companies can reap the benefits of a longer Twitter box on the search page without being needlessly wordy all the time. The box works as a carousel, allowing the searcher to scroll horizontally through a few recent tweets, beyond just the first three showing. We discovered that if any of the tweets in the box – even the ones not initially visible – are longer, it lengthens the whole box.

In this new era of Twitter 280, brands have the opportunity to offer deeper thoughts, or even just thoughts that are longer winded. That’s their choice. But now it pays to be wordy – without even having to pay.


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