Struggling social media companies try out new looks
Struggling social-media darlings Twitter and Snapchat are taking on new looks as the services seek wider audiences in the shadow of Facebook.
Twitter is rolling out a 280-character limit for nearly all its users, abandoning its iconic 140-character limit for tweets. And Snapchat, long popular with young people, will undergo a revamp in hopes of becoming easier to use for everyone else.
Both services announced the moves Tuesday as they look for ways to expand beyond their passionate but slow-growing fan bases.
Twitter has said that 9 percent of tweets written in English hit the 140-character limit. People ended up spending more time editing tweets or didn’t send them out at all. By removing that hurdle, Twitter is hoping people will tweet more, drawing more users in.
German bureaucrats — notorious for their ability to create lengthy tongue twisters consisting of one single word — celebrated Wednesday.
Germany’s justice ministry wrote that it can now tweet about legislation concerning the transfer of oversight responsibilities for beef labeling.
The law is known in German as the Rindfleischetikettierungsueberwachungsaufgabenuebertragungsgesetz.
Munich police, meanwhile, said that “at last” they won’t need abbreviations to tweet about accidents involving forklift drivers, or Niederflurfoerderfahrzeugfuehrer.
In Rome, student Marina Verdicchio said the change “will give us the possibility to express ourselves in a totally different way and to avoid canceling important words when we use Twitter.”
Others were not impressed, including at least one who quoted Shakespeare: “Brevity is the soul of wit.”
And, as Snap Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel noted, change does not come without risk.
“We don’t yet know how the behavior of our community will change when they begin to use our updated application,” he said. “We’re willing to take that risk for what we believe are substantial long-term benefits to our business.”
Snap, Snapchat’s parent company, did not provide details on the upcoming changes.
During the third quarter, Twitter averaged 330 million monthly users, up just 1 percent from the previous quarter. Snapchat added 4.5 million daily users in the quarter to 178 million, which amounts to a 3 percent growth. The company does not report monthly user figures.
Those numbers pale next to social media behemoth Facebook, which reported that its monthly users rose 16 percent to 2.07 billion.
This file photo shows a Snap Inc. banner covering the facade of the New York Stock Exchange in New York.