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Twitter Fast Tracks Improvements to Build User Base in 2015

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Twitter recently announced the fast tracking of numerous enhancements to the platform which are expected to launch in the first quarter of 2015, and intended to entice novices and stalled users back onto the platform. While Twitter saw increased visitors and impressions during this year’s Super Bowl and World Cup events, its user growth overall hasn’t matched this success. During Twitter’s first Analyst Day event in San Francisco this past week, CEO Dick Costolo revealed how with a few updates to the platform, Twitter can become the number one daily destination for consumers, growing Twitter’s user base, and in turn making brands more comfortable investing their media dollars on the platform.

Below we break down several important updates to Twitter’s roadmap of which brands and users should be aware.

Improved Timeline Experience
Twitter has been experimenting over the past few months with delivering relevant content to users that wouldn’t normally appear within their feeds, enhancing the user experience and making it more enticing for them to visit the platform on a daily basis. While there has been no specific time announced for when these changes will go into effect, Twitter’s goal seems to be to improve the timeline as soon as possible.

  • Timeline Highlights:Relevant tweets will be delivered to users based on algorithms, in addition to who and what they already follow. The focus will be on content that has been shared or engaged with while users were away from their feeds, and will be tailored for both power and standard users. This update is likely to benefit brands distributing content at various times of the day, as content will be repurposed and delivered to those who might have missed it.
  • Instant Timeline:One of the factors that seems to have deterred Twitter growth, according to their own admission, was the difficulty users face in building out a robust timeline when first joining. While “Who to Follow” recommendations and cross social platform connections help create basic feeds for users, such tools don’t seem to be enough to keep Twitter novices around. The “Instant Timeline” feature will not only be offered to new users, but also to those who signed up years ago but have not yet created a “healthy timeline,” according to benchmarks Twitter is setting. As for advertising partners, there is no word yet on how they may be affected, but it is possible the update could lead to increases in organic followers for more active and engaging brands. 

Content and Messaging Enhancements
Twitter has had no problem expanding the platform to accommodate the type of content its users create and share. And a few of the new updates are being designed to make it even easier for people to create and share content.

  • Tweets Go Direct:Twitter continues to develop its Direct Messaging (DM) functionality – most recently adding multimedia functionality – with more improvements ahead. Users will soon be able to share tweets within DMs, allowing for them to easily move between public and private content. This improvement could prove useful for Community Managers managing brand customer service, as well as for marketers looking to foster relationships with Influencers and superfans on the platform.
  • Video Capabilities: With more platforms tapping into the real-time and event space, Twitter is looking to enhance video editing and sharing capabilities on the platform in order to keep up. This update would be separate from their successful app, Vine, and would be focused on the native Twitter feed. The update would allow users to grab, edit and share video within Twitter’s posting functions, similar to how users are sharing photos within the platform now. This update will help Twitter better understand user behavior, and could eventually cut into some of Instagram’s user base. Brands can now create video content and post it seamlessly within the platform. Twitter has seen a sharp increase in promoted native content over the past several months, and this update will give brands an edge to produce rich content experiences for their fans.

    Companies that host real-time events, like award shows and sporting programs, could see huge lift with this new functionality, and campaigns that use a specific hashtag will be able to more seamlessly tie together a cohesive story across many profiles. Brands in industries like music and entertainment, which are currently being courted by all platforms when it comes to video, are most likely to be the largest benefactors of this update. No specifics on video lengths or dimensions were announced, but we can assume Twitter will trend towards long-form storytelling. And since this content would be posted similarly to photos, marketers should ensure that paid media support and amplification is seamless.
  • Breaking News & Alerts:Twitter has been testing its “Breaking News & Alerts” feature across a few profiles, but we imagine this feature will be similar to text alerts users are currently receiving. The platform hasn’t specified what or who will create the alerts, but we can assume national and international news will be covered. And, with enhancements to geo-targeting and fencing on the horizon, specific area alerts could be included in this update as well. There is also the possibility that brands could tap into this feature to use the alerts as notices for users.
  • Reaching Non-Logged In Users:Twitter has said that more than 500 million unique users a month visit Twitter-owned and operated properties without logging in. This represents an opportunity for Twitter and for brands that are working to cultivate a space on the platform. Moving into 2015, Twitter is looking to enhance its homepages and other destinations to continue to drive visitors and allow brands to carve out owned spaces on the platform. This update seems to be one of the larger opportunities for brands, but with details still limited, brands will need to wait to see what the spaces will actually look like to determine how they may better develop their presences.
  • Personal Profiles Go Business: Twitter understands that brands are not the only ones that want to know about their own presences and content performance on the platform, but that its users do as well. While details around this update are scarce, we can expect enhancements to personal profiles that may resemble the analytics given to verified and brand profiles to come in 2015. Such an update will allow users to continue to carve out and curate their perfect feeds.

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Breaking with its traditional test-and-learn approach, Twitter is sharing its enhancement roadmap in advance of its products launches as a way to energize brands on the platform, and identify new opportunities and ways of creating content and attracting users. Only time will tell if these enhancements will pay off for the platform, but such updates are important for marketers to stay abreast of so that if they choose to, they may determine the best ways to adapt their strategies to tap into these new features and users.

Cover photo via Huffington Post