- Twitter will stop counting links and photos as part of its 140-character limit on tweets, a source familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.
- The source said the update to Twitter's character limit could come within the next two weeks.
- Twitter declined to comment on the report.
Twitter has been experimenting with its core product ever since bringing back Jack Dorsey to the CEO role last year. Twitter has been adding new products (such as its Moments feature) and revamping old ones (such as reworking the algorithm for Twitter feeds and changing "favorites" to "likes"), all with an eye on broadening its appeal and attracting new users.
In fact, this isn't the first time that reports have come out about possible changes to Twitter's iconic 140-character limit: Recode reported earlier this year that Twitter was considering upping its character limit to 10,000, which would have represented a major shift away from its micro-blogging roots. The possibility of not including links and photos in the 140-character limit would represent a more modest change, and one that matches the evolution of how many consumers are using Twitter today.
According to Bloomberg, Twitter originally adopted the 140-character limit because tweets could then fit in a text message on your mobile phone, which was "a common way for sending tweets when the service debuted in 2006, before the proliferation of smartphones." Opening up the character limit to no longer include photos and links could lead to an increased use of photos and links on Twitter.
It's not yet clear what impact the reported change will have on the platform for marketers and advertisers. While Twitter offers a real-time marketing opportunity for brands, it has struggled to grow advertising revenue.
"It's simply not clear that Twitter is as effective at direct marketing efforts as its rivals, and its revenues have suffered accordingly," The Verge wrote of Twitter's latest earnings, when the company reported that revenue from brand advertising fell from $640 million in Q4 2015 to $530 million in Q1 2016. Despite the criticism, Twitter said it intends to "continue to build tools to make it easier for marketers to run effective campaigns on Twitter."
But Twitter has also struggled to grow its user base, which has largely stagnated in the last year as other social platforms, such as Snapchat, have taken off. The key to bringing in more advertisers—and turning around its poor performance—may lie in signing up more new users.
If taking photos and links out of its 140-character limit can help Twitter appeal to new users (and engage existing ones), then the move will be considered a success. But if it's not enough to bring new users in and growth continues to stagnate, then Twitter will need to figure out another way to evolve its core product—without losing the appeal that made it worth using in the first place, a tricky proposition for any company.