Twitter: Big Changes are Coming. What I Think it Means

Posted on Posted in LinkedIn, Social Media, Twitter, Writing and Blogging

Yesterday, Twitter announced significant changes. They started with Developers. That was nice of them since it gives us a chance to adjust everything we’ve done to the new realities.

Yes, I’m being facetious.

For more normal users, the changes will be less intrusive. They may even make your lives a little easier.

There will be no change to the 140-character limit. Sort of.

The biggest change is invisible.

The scheme that defines a tweet will have two new invisible sections. The new sections will be a prefix and a suffix. Neither counts towards the 140.

The prefix & suffix

The prefix section is for mentions. That works something like the “Who is in this picture” hack where you can include up to ten user names you want to mention. Those names don’t count against the 140.

Soon, you will be able to mention as many people as you want. It also means that screen names won’t count in reply length.

I can see that change fixing the issue I have of thanking people for following me. It used to be tough to figure out how many people you can mention since screen names come in all lengths. That will soon no longer be a thing.

Soon, I will be able to thank people en masse. Heck, I can even just send out a single tweet that mentions everyone who followed me on that day.

Apart from that, meh.

The suffix region will hold a URL. Yup, just one. At least it won’t eat up 20 characters. Lookee there we saved a bunch of characters!

Media doesn’t count anymore

Adding media like, pictures, video, etc, will also no longer bite into the 140. The way it stands now, media URLs bite off 20 characters. Soon they won’t.

I’m not sure exactly how they will implement that. You can only add 1 URL to the suffix. That’s usually for sending people where you want them to go. That’s important.

Media is another URL.

Web link + Media link… To me, that makes two URLs. Maybe someone can check my math?

I assume that means there’s another section that will hold media URLs. You know what they say about assuming.

It may well be that the click-to-tweet-with-image hack will go Buhbye. I sure as hell hope not. That would mean going back to nearly 200 posts to fix them.

Go retweet yourself!

Right now, you can’t retweet your own tweet. Soon you will be able to.

You will also be able to quote yourself.

I can see how this new capability may help satisfy those who wanted long-form tweet capability. It would be an “easy” way to stitch several tweets together into a post of sorts. Write 140-characters, quote then to the next 140, etc.

Time will tell. My first thought is that it would be too annoying to write and even more annoying to read.

It’s a compromise.

A compromise is a solution that satisfies no one.

That said, being able to retweet yourself will play havoc on 3rd-party scheduling apps. They just became taxis, and Uber rolled into town. Scheduling is not a big deal if you can retweet yourself with a click.

Twitter misses a period

There used to be a convention that used “.@”. If I tweeted to @juanblanco67 only my followers who ALSO followed John White would be notified. Adding the period before the @ lets all my followers see the tweet.

That’s going away. I don’t even understand why it was there to start with.

That’s not a big deal. I think I’ve used it a handful of times (maybe) out of over 10K tweets. If anyone else uses it often, please let me know. I’m very curious why.

Current thoughts

Overall, I think this is a step in the right direction for Twitter. There was a huge stink about dumping the 140-character limit, so they didn’t.

They just stopped counting stuff that used to count against the 140.


I bet that Twitter will let the tweet stitching go on for a while until people demand a long-form option.

Or, maybe I’m just giving them too much credit. If they’re really that smart, they can shake up social.

I have a sneaky suspicion that they are that smart.

Twitter just goes along its merry way doing its stuff. While everyone else loses their heads, Twitter cruises. Twitter rarely freaks out. It rarely jumps from one bandwagon to the next.

It’s a busy, vibrant platform. Sure, user growth is slowing. But, tweets aren’t.

Understand it, and you prosper. Ignore it and you face an uphill climb.

It’s better to understand it.

Twitter’s announcements are here:

As I dig up more details, I’ll let you guys know.



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