Facebook has, apparently, rejigged its programming to allow status updates of up to 60,000 characters long. That’s a 12-fold increase over its previous limit of 5,000 characters and a remarkable leap in progress from its original 160 character limit which was in play before March 2009.
What does it mean? Like everything which happens online the move is connected to several new developments and has impact upon several others. Let’s start with the easy ones first. Facebook has seen how Google Plus users are using Google’s social network to create full-blown blog posts, and it has seen the level of interactivity such activity sets off. As a result and probably in an attempt to stimulate their own membership base to post more than a link followed by ‘lol’ or ‘wow’ they have increased the character limit of the status updates.
Now that is not a good thing. For a start it means that Facebook, rather than acting, is currently reacting to Google Plus. Business at this level is like a boxing match or a game of world-class tennis. The moment you react, rather than take action out of your own volition you are no longer playing your game. You are, instead, dancing to the tune of your antagonist. With Facebook reacting like this, without any real planning or even a logical reason which would show why their membership base might suddenly go from posting an average of 400 characters to 60,000 characters, it looks like, right now, that the game is all Google’s.
Now for the hard stuff. Facebook and Google are two very different types of animals. While they both may appear to feed off the same plains, their approach and style could not be more different. While Google, born on the web and based on mathematics, believes in using automation to place power in the hands of the individual and then, leverage that to make a little profit from the actions of very many people, Facebook is still struggling to redefine itself from its frat-boy “let’s meet girls” beginnings which made it top-heavy and autocratic.
Which way things will go will only be shown by time. But for now, for marketers and webmasters, there should be equal focus given on both.