What you have to know about Twitter’s new comment function

The 140 character limit has been the blessing and the bane of Twitter since its creation. And while most users appreciate the challenge to be brief, the character limit was really annoying when you wanted to retweet a message and add your own two cents.

In many cases that meant shortening the original tweet, just so that you could add “Great article”, “Totally agree” or “This is despicable” (for anything by Katie Hopkins or Roger Köppel). Even given the inherent brevity of all Twitter exchanges, this did not help facilitate the exchange of ideas. The result looked mostly like this:

This has changed: Twitter is now giving you an additional 116 characters to comment on any tweet. You now have the option to “comment on” or “quote” a tweet when you hit the retweet button. Both options are the same, but for some reason Twitter has decided to use different terms in the browser and in the app version of the service.

Here is what it looks like:

Tweet with Comment

As you can see, you and your followers now have much more space to talk about the content you like or dislike.

The bad news is that so far this new functionality is only available through Twitter’s native desktop client, the iOS app and Tweetdeck (which is owned by Twitter). Android users still have to wait and third party social media management software such as Buffer or Hootsuite do not support this new feature yet either. In addition, you cannot (yet) embed tweets like these into WordPress, which is why I inserted it as a screenshot.

Here is what this means for your day-to-day social media work:

  • So far, good practice was to only use circa 115 characters, to make it easier for others to add a comment. Now you can use all 140 characters without having a bad conscience.
  • You will need to pay closer attention to your “notifications” tab, since comments using this new feature do not automatically show up in your “mentions” tab.
  • Expect to see more interaction with your followers. Twitter has made this change to encourage engagement. If you post interesting content, you will benefit from this change.
  • Find out when your social media management software will start to support this new feature. If the answer is “we don’t know” or “we are not planning to”, think about using Tweetdeck or another product that does.
  • Start using this feature yourself and discover how it changes the way you interact with other Twitter users.

If you are looking for (a lot) more detail on how this new feature impacts images, links etc, please read this excellent and extensive piece on HubSpot.

What do you think about this new Twitter feature? Please leave a comment below!