Twitter users will be given extra room to rant, rave and reach out after bosses announced changes to its signature 140-character limit amid efforts to compete with its rivals.

The site has confirmed much-mooted plans to stop attachments and links from contributing to its strict total as part of the overhaul.

Twitter said the simplified rules - to be introduced within months - will mean users' handles are also removed from the character count when replying.

In addition, any new tweet beginning with a user's handle will be seen by all followers.

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey said: "We're always going to look for opportunities to make tweets a lot more expressive, and enable people to say what they want to say.

"As long as things are fast, easy, simple and expressive, we're going to look at what we can do to make Twitter a better experience."

Twitter has launched a handful of new features in recent months in an attempt to draw in new users, including re-designing the site's timeline so that tweets no longer appeared in chronological order. Instead, those posts Twitter believed to be of interest to users based on their activity are pushed to the top of the timeline.

The announcement comes as Twitter reported revenue of 595 million US dollars (£408 million) for the first three months of 2016, below the 607 million US dollars (£416 million) forecast by industry analysts.

However, the site added five million average monthly users, with that figure climbing to 310 million compared to the 305 million recorded in December.

Worcester-based digital marketing consultant Gemma Went welcomed the changes - particularly the quirk which means users currently have to add a full stop before a username if they want the tweet to receive a wider audience, and not just limit it to followers.

She said: "The 140 limit that currently includes Twitter names, attachments and links certainly reins in more creative tweets, so I see this as a great move to encourage more sharing and, hopefully, creative content in our tweets.

"It could improve group chats if we can tag more people in one tweet and allow people to join the conversation.

"Anything that makes it easier and more engaging for people to use can only be a good thing. I'm also very pleased they've done away with the .@username issue - that just didn't make sense."

Brian Blau, an analyst at the international consultancy Gartner, said: "It's great to see Twitter make some changes to tweets and giving users more room to be expressive is certainly a welcome change to the service.

"It means that users will have an easier time understanding the complications of what to put into a tweet and they can instead concentrate on what they want to say.

"These changes will help make the service easier and more enjoyable to use for existing users.

"The changes to tweets are certainly welcome, but overall Twitter hasn't yet addressed the more fundamental problems such as being able to attract, on-board and retain new users at a growth rate that is meaningful.

"That new level of interest in Twitter hasn't been seen yet and these new features, while interesting and useful, most likely won't help on their own."