Twitter Changes Reply Rules, Removes Barriers to Longer Tweets

#Gamechanger. Today, Twitter announced several tweet updates that will change what counts toward the 140-character limit.

According to a blog post written by the social network’s Senior Product Manager Todd Sherman, the following will no longer “use up” people’s character count:

Replies: @usernames that automatically appear at the beginning of a reply tweet will not add to the 140-character tally; non-reply tweets that feature a @username at the beginning or in the body of a tweet, however, will.

[email protected]”: Users won’t have to put a period in front of the “@” symbol when crafting a new tweet that starts with a username. These tweets will automatically reach their entire following. So, drop the period.

Media attachments: An attachment URL placed at the end of a tweet to show photos, GIFs, polls, Quote Tweets, or DM deep links will not up the character count. URLs typed or pasted within the Tweet still will.

In addition to these changes, users will be able to retweet their own tweets, including replies.

“These changes will allow for richer public conversations that are easier to follow on Twitter, and ensure people can attach extra elements, media, and content to Tweets without sacrificing the characters they have to share their view,” Prashant Sridharan, senior director of developer and platform relations for Twitter, wrote in a separate post.

According to Sridharan’s post, these updates will affect several areas within Twitter, including the Public REST and Streaming APIs, Ads API, Gnip data products, and display products.

Twitter is able to make these adjustments, he writes, by dividing up the tweet real estate into three separate regions: The hidden prefix region, the display text region, and the hidden suffix region. The hidden prefix region renders the initial @usernames in reply tweets as metadata rather than display text, preventing users from adding to their character sum. The hidden suffix region works the same way. This space reserved for a single attachment URL (containing one to four photos, a GIF, video, poll, Quote Tweet, or DM deep link) renders as metadata. That leaves the middle display text region with enough space for 140 characters. The following diagrams from Twitter’s developers site illustrates the new tweet format.

The blog posts say that Twitter will be debuting these changes “over the coming months.” So, marketers and consumers won’t have to wait long to start shortening their character count. #blessed.

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