Twitter weakened the messaging skills of 328 million people

Twitter got it wrong. They are weakening your messaging skills.

In November 7th 2017, the social media giant doubled the character limit on tweets, moving from 140 to 280 characters.

Twitter product manager Aliza Rosen explained in a company Tweet, that it was largely due to the restrictive nature of the English language: it takes more words in English to convey an idea than, say, the more expressive Japanese alphabet.

Blah blah blah.

Good communication is about clear messaging and by doubling the character limit, Twitter is undermining its most attractive feature – its brevity. Improving your messaging skills is one of the clearest paths to success. 

140 new ways to weaken your messaging

The first example of weaker messaging came, ironically, from the company’s founder, Jack Dorsey. In his first 280-character tweet, he wrote:

Um, there is a fair bit of waffle in there.

A few fans of brevity ran an editor’s eye over Dorsey’s tweet. Here’s the winner, from senior features editor at VICE, Caitlyn Kelly:

It’s a classic example of padding. The message Dorsey wanted to communicate was that 140 characters was arbitrary, and Twitter will retain its brevity even at 280 characters.

By padding it out to showcase the change, Dorsey lost and weakened his messaging.

Brevity is closely linked to clarity. This is one of the hallmarks of The Vivid Method, and something I cover extensively in my book What’s Your Message? – if you can’t communicate your main point clearly and succinctly, your message won’t stick in the mind of your audience.

Keep sharpening your messaging skills

For nearly a decade, Twitter has helped us improve our communications skills. By making messages ‘tweetable’ we have been forced to think through our communications for better engagement. Brands and individuals all found a way to make 140 characters work to their advantage – it set up rigid parameters that made people think long and hard about their core message.

So, thank you Twitter.

I love the way Twitter has made people choose their words carefully and improve their messaging skills – it’s in line with our promise of Public Speaking with twice the impact, but half the effort.

For more information on getting your message right, get in touch – in 140 characters or less!