2016 is going to be remembered for plenty of things. So far it’s been the year that has proved the mortality of celebrities, a vintage year in the world of heavy rock music and, in social media spheres, a year of changes.
We’ve seen Instagram overhaul its visual identity, introduce an algorithm and, it appears, finally give us proper analytics. We’ve seen Snapchat roll out a more grown-up, serious version 2 and we’ve seen Facebook continue to tweak things, as it almost always seems to do.
Now, it’s Twitter’s turn.
In a blog post on Tuesday afternoon, the micro-blogging platform rolled out news of a number of changes, all of which look set to really help you maximise your 140 characters. Whether it’s photos, videos, polls, replies and quoted tweets not stealing any your characters, the introduction of the ability to retweet or quote tweet yourself or the death of .@ it all looks really interesting.
Crucially, these changes should all make Twitter easier to get your head around and use, without just dropping the character limit, and I think Twitter should be applauded for that.
In fact, more than anything I’m thrilled that Twitter will continue to be based around 140 characters. That limit is Twitter’s ‘thing’ and letting go of it would have been a major sell-out. It’s a great length for the platform and these changes will really help get even more value out of them.
To me, these changes seem to strike an excellent balance between making Twitter better wihtout alienating long-term users or evangelists. It’s a change, sure, but nothing so catastrophic that old-timers like me will get angry.
(Although, this is Twitter we’re talking about, so some people will always be angry, but you know what I mean).
The idea to stop images, videos and quoted tweets from eating into your 140 characters is a really great one; so many times I’ve drafted a tweet with a link and a cool picture to help it stand out in people’s timelines, only to find I’m a few characters in the red. Giving us those extra characters’ elbow room – space to breathe if you like – will be a massive help.
Taking @names out of the character limit when you’re replying too is equally helpful – especially if you’re replying to more than one person. We’ll actually have space to reply!
The ability to retweet or quote yourself is also a sensible move; I’ve noticed an increase recently in people replying to their own tweets to add a further comment or give more prominence to a previous tweet. By adding this functionality, Twitter has shown it pays attention to what the community is doing, how the community is using its platform and is adapting to suit those users.
Good on them.
Finally, killing off the .@ quirk. Of all the training I’ve given on Twitter, explaining this convention to people has always been the lightbulb moment – that bit of wisdom that makes people think I’m some sort of social media expert (ha!). However, even when you know about it, it’s a faff, and another character wasted. The planned change is better.
So much better.
So, all in all I think Twitter deserves a big high five for these changes; anything that helps make it less of a weird, confusing and intimidating place to land in on your first visit is a good thing. I don’t care what the haters say, I still get so much value from Twitter on a daily basis and anything that can done to help give noobies more confidence getting their Twitter wings should be celebrated.
Even better – naïve as this may sound – these changes don’t feel like they’re being done with profit and advertising in mind. They’re being done to make the lives of Twitter’s community easier and give them more value from the platform.
That means these changes are for you, me and everyone else, so let’s embrace them.
What do you think of Twitter’s changes? Let me know below!