Have you noticed your tweets growing a bit shorter lately? Tweets are still holding strong at 140 characters, but due to recent changes in the t.co wrapper, text distribution has altered slightly. Twitter’s shortened t.co links gained two characters in length, so to fit within the 140 character limit, the remaining non-URL text sacrifices two characters.
As of February 20, 2013 tweets with http URLs are restricted to 118 characters of non-URL text, and those with https URLS are limited to 117 introductory characters. Of course, if you use a link shortener like bit.ly, these changes won’t affect your process.
Another recent Twitter update conveniently points out when you’ve gone over the character limit by highlighting extra letters in red. But as community manager, you don’t plan out tweets directly on Twitter.com, do you? Instead, you probably use an editorial calendar based in Excel. Rather than ballparking your character count or squinting at the screen to count letters, save yourself time and headaches by automatically calculating the cell character count within your editorial calendar — here’s how.
1. Build a character count column
Within your Excel social media editorial calendar, insert a new column just for character count right next to your planned tweets.
2. Enter the character count formula
Next, you’ll enter the character count formula =LEN(cell#) in the first cell. The cell number for the tweet you want to count will go inside the parentheses, for example B3.
3. Apply formula to all tweets
Double click the bottom righthand corner of the blue highlighted box around your cell and drag it down to pull the formula into the rows that follow.
4. Check your tweet character count
From here, you’ll be able to see the character count for each planned tweet, ensuring that you fit within Twitter’s 140 character limit. In the example below, since we used a shortened link we still have 126 characters worth of non-URL text to work with. If we were to use Twitter’s t.co shortener, we would be restricted to 118.
Photo (CC) by e y e / s e e on Flickr