Social Media

360i Report: Twitter Profiles’ Visual Boost

April 27, 2014

By Danielle Johnsen Karr, Supervisor, Digital Communities at 360i.

Executive Summary

Twitter is freshening up user web profiles as part of a major redesign that gives visual content more prominence. Those who also utilize Facebook will be familiar with the new look, as it bears many similarities to the “original” social network.
Over the past year, Twitter has made continuous updates to evolve the way its users display, engage with and share content on the platform. As such, the design is not surprising given the platform’s new focus on visual content. Per our partners at Twitter, feedback from the beta testing has been positive.

With Instagram catching up to Twitter when it comes to mobile usage (34.6MM users vs. 30.8MM according to a recent eMarketer study), it is interesting that Twitter’s latest update focuses on the web experience. That being said, it comes as no surprise that the rise of visual content has moved Twitter to reimagine how its 240+ million users experience the platform.

What’s Changing & Key Implications
Better Personal Branding: Regular users will benefit from the enhanced profile photo and customizable header. And with the branding interest moving from skins to enlarged customizable headers, brands in particular will be given more opportunity to shine. Marketers might utilize this canvas to feature prominent personalities, or promote new campaigns.
Increased Focus on Engaging Content: High-performing tweets will appear slightly larger within the profile (whether they were promoted with media or they enjoyed organic/viral success). This will allow users to quickly find quality content — and will empower brands with the opportunity to easily share what’s resonating with their audiences and repurpose high-performing tweets.
The return of pinned tweets allows brands and users to use their profiles as destinations, focusing on content versus bio information being delivered to new followers. This will also help brands define the messages users see, creating focused campaigns that keep priority messaging top of mind.

Filtered Experience: The web experience has taken a page from Twitter’s mobile experience, and allows users to create a focused newsfeed based on interests and behaviors. With filtered timelines, users can look at other profiles through these specific filters: Tweets, Tweets with Photos and/or Videos, or Tweets and Replies. For brands, this means that visual creative needs to be top quality as it could be only featured within a timeline of visuals. For users who are looking for Twitter to be a more conversational platform, the replies timeline will be the place for them.
Conclusion

Twitter’s new profile is currently available to new users and a select beta group that has been handpicked to test out the redesign ahead of the general user-base. As is the case with any newly announced feature, there is an anticipated “wait-and-see” period before assessing the total impact–for marketers in particular.
However, it is possible to make some early predictions at this stage. For one, the redesign could impact paid media opportunities down the line, as well as creative decisions (given the increased need for high-quality visual content). Yet, with more than 75 percent of Twitter’s user base using mobile applications for access, the web redesign is not a complete game changer.

As the updates roll out, we recommend that marketers reach out to their social and community strategy teams to learn about the new creative dimensions and specs, as well as how the new look can be used to amplify their current social plans.