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280 characters on Twitter: what impact on Customer Care?


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Twitter just announced a major change for all users: the switch from 140 to 280 characters available per tweet. As Twitter became one of the main digital channels for customer care, we are reviewing how companies can benefit from this new format.

A general rollout after Twitter’s tests

This evolution follows a months-long beta test period during which the change was rolled out to a limited number of users. The social network found that 9% of tweets hit the character limit, versus 1% for tweets with 280 characters. Twitter presents this evolution as a way to give users more space to express themselves.

Twitter 280 characters test results

Although this change makes tweets longer, Twitter reassure users that speed and brevity will remain its signature. During the tests, users with the 280 character limit kept on sending short messages: only 5% of tweets sent were longer than 140 characters.

It’s also worth emphasizing that people within the test spent less time editing their tweets to respect the limit. This change has not only increased their activity on the social network, but also the engagement they enjoyed.

Consequences for companies

In the business world, this change means more space to answer clients. Replying complex enquiries in 140 characters can be challenging. This change makes customer care management on Twitter easier. The new 280 character limit will allow companies to:

  • Limit messages spread over several tweets: the 140 character limit could oblige companies and customers to divide their messages in several parts. This was not optimal for conversations follow-up and could increase response time. The 280 character limit help reduce the number of such messages.
  • Avoid redirecting to other channels: it is common to see brands redirect their customers from Twitter to another channel (email, phone…). This is not good practice from a customer experience standpoint. With more space available, companies now have the opportunity to answer directly on Twitter without redirecting to another channel. Of course, private messages interactions remain the best medium to share sensitive data (personal details, customer number).
  • Reduce handling time: as observed by Twitter during its test, agents spend less time editing their messages to fit the character limit. Their answers will be more detailed too.

Thierry Moussu, Head of Digital Relations at Direct Energie, has already noted that clients’ questions are also more complete:

“Most of our clients contacting us through Twitter are already using the additional available space to flesh out their questions, which are therefore much clearer. We benefit from a better comprehension, helping us to treat faster their enquiries.”
Thierry Moussu Thierry Moussu
Head of Digital Relations at Direct Energie

This quick handling time criteria is especially important on Twitter: 79% of users expect an answer from brands within an hour.

  • Adopt more easily the brand’s tone on Twitter: the 280 character limit gives agents more space to answer with their company’s tone. For example, some of them choose to include the agent’s name in each tweet, giving a sense of proximity but leaving less space for the message content. This leads to using abbreviations, which are not always understood by customers. In the same way, some companies regularly include emojis, images of even GIFs to answer more creatively. Agents will now be able to include more easily this type of specificities to their answers.

Globally, this change will allow brands to communicate more efficiently, as Thierry Moussu explains:

“The character limit doubling is good news for our own brands’ publications on Twitter too: we do not have to shorten our answers or to use acronyms and abbreviations anymore, our tweets are much clearer.”
Thierry Moussu Thierry Moussu
Head of Digital Relations at Direct Energie

Among RingCentral Engage’s clients, we have observed that customer care agents use 35% more characters to answer enquiries on average, since the change.

This evolution can contribute to improve customer care on Twitter by enabling companies to provide more complete and faster answers. Since the number of tweets related to customer care has increased by 250% over the last 2 years, being present on this channel becomes essential to make sure to answer to enquiries.

Originally published Nov 14, 2017, updated Dec 30, 2022

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