Twitter...140 characters or less, right? Well technically. In their New user FAQ, they explain the rhyme and reason behind this.
But that's 140 characters total. For text. Text which might be a hashtag. Text which might be a link. Text which might be a link to a picture.
And of course any combination of those.
Fortunately, Twitter helps you out by counting how many characters you have left, right next to the "Buffer" & "Tweet" buttons, the former of which you might not have installed as a plug-in on your own browser, so don't worry if you don't see that one.
So, for example, with my work at Dance Place, one of my main goals is to always make room for #dcdance.
And now I have 132 characters left to type what I need to. Sometimes if there's a program that's multidisciplinary, I'll just use #dcarts instead.
Which is great because it gives me one more character than #dcdance. But more often than not, I'll actually try to use both, to tap into the discipline specific conversation, as well as the larger arts-wide one, in DC.
And there goes my count...down to 124 characters. Now, one of the neat things with Twitter is that at some point they started shortening links for you. Anytime you post a link in Twitter, it now only takes up 20 characters, which you don't necessarily see.
So yeah...it's a little more than 20 characters. And here's a piece at NBC attempting to explain why. Now you might be asking, what if I use a URL shortening site, like bit.ly or something. Then, it is no longer a URL shortening mechanism, but a lengthening one.
If anything, maybe it would be more appropriate to describe Twitter's link service as a standardizing one, as any link, however short or long, will take up 22-23 characters. Now this is actually related to uploading photos in Twitter.
As you can see, it even says that the image will appear as a link, a link of 23 characters. But I try to be an all-the-above kind of guy. If possible, I want the image, I want the link, I want the hashtags, but you try to put all of those in?
And all of a sudden you're left with just 78 characters of saying what you need to say. So, honestly, 2 out of 3 ain't too bad.
But I will almost ALWAYS include the hashtags as one of those elements. You might be wondering what happens if you go OVER 140 characters?
It's the highlight in red.
Anyway, that's that. Moral of the story, know what you're actual character limit is based on the elements I would recommend requiring in your tweets. In this case, at least one hashtag and a link. That leaves me with 110 characters.
In fact, anytime you begin to type out a tweet, go ahead and put those elements in first. This is actually tip #5 in post listing ten twitter tips.
And this way, you're spending more time from the get go working with the space you actually have. Obviously, there are exceptions to this, especially exchanges which are more like conversations. So if this doesn't necessarily apply to how you're using twitter at any given moment, I'd actually take that as a good sign.
Hope this helps, and let me know what you think in the comments,