Twitter’s latest changes can be fast-paced and difficult to keep up with – both within the channel and the company itself. Since the start of the year (we’re in March already?) it seems as though there’s rarely been a day when the social media channel hasn’t been making headlines. But what do we really know about Twitter’s latest changes so far in 2016? Here, we create a roundup for you and discuss how it may affect marketers and brands.

Twitter Changes 2016

Twitter’s Latest Changes To The Timeline: ‘Best tweets first’

A couple of weeks back Twitter became a victim of its own design, with the hashtag ‘#RIPTwitter’ trending across the channel. The reason? Rumours stemming from this Buzzfeed article that a new Twitter change was coming and fast. That tweets were about to be ordered by algorithm and not, as has always been the case, in chronological order.

What this may have meant for users, is that one of Twitter’s more defining features would be lost. Instead of being a ‘timeline’, tweets would be surfaced according to relevance, previous history and behaviour. This led to some users heralding the death of Twitter.

A screenshot of users on Twitter discussing the 'RIP Twitter' hashtag

However, when you dig a little bit deeper it seems as though this version of Twitter’s latest changes isn’t actually anything new.

Here’s how it works. When you open Twitter, the tweets you see first, will be the ones that you care about most. These will still be fairly recent and in reverse chronological order. The rest of your tweets will then follow this section, still in chronological order as they have always been. To see new tweets (rather than ‘best tweets’) at the top of your timeline, you simply pull to refresh. More importantly, this is something you have to opt in to, hidden within the “Account” > “Content” section of your settings. This is something the majority of users probably will never do, although it wouldn’t be surprising if Twitter made it on by default once the Twitterstorm dies down.

What Twitter latest changes mean for marketers and brands

Looking at the positives, early tests by Twitter show that this format does lead to more engagement and active conversation by some users which could help brands to gain more traction. However, impact in the early days when most users will have this setting turned off, will be minimal. As always, it comes down to focusing on great content and ensuring that anything you do post is relevant, interesting and timely, in order to attract your followers and have them engage.

Deep-link private messaging for brands

One of the less discussed features that Twitter has released recently is deep-linking private messaging for brands and polling. Released in this Twitter blog, Twitter explains how some advertisers see over 80% of their inbound social customer service requests happen on Twitter. This pulls on Twitter’s growing importance as a customer service management tool.

Twitter now allows businesses to provide deep links within tweets that highlight the ‘Send a Private Message’ option. Private Messaging as a feature isn’t any different to Direct Messaging, but by highlighting it within a discourse, it makes the conversation and reporting element a more seamless process.

Twitter’s Latest Changes include this deep-link private messaging tool for brands

Similarly, Twitter have also introduced a polling element that allows users to privately share feedback with a business on their customer service experience.

What this means for marketers and brands

If you aren’t already using Twitter for customer service, you should be. Integrating the private message link and the polling is a great way to enhance the level of customer service you can offer and keep customers happy. For marketers and brands, both features are a positive step towards creating brand advocates (and also taking pesky customer service conversations offline).

Getting GIFy

You don’t have to be a social media manager to love a GIF (that’s an animated image for the uninitiated). According to Twitter, 100 million users added GIFs to tweets within the last year. To help facilitate the GIF love further, Twitter has announced that it will be rolling out native GIF search across iOS, Android and the web. This is powered by GIF search engines Riffsy and Giphy. Native GIF searching has been added to Tinder, Facebook Messenger and Slack over the past few months, so Twitter is a little late to the party but this can only be a positive step for the channel.

What this means for marketers and brands

Go GIF crazy! No, not really. GIF’s can be a powerful, and often humorous, way to add flair to an update or tweet so it will be down to social media managers and marketers to work out how to use the new feature to best effect.

Social media GIF


The instant article effect

In the midst of will-Twitter won’t-Twitter become Facebook-ised, Facebook itself released news that it will soon let any publisher post instant articles on Facebook. Now while not strictly a Twitter movement, bear with us, because this one’s important.

Facebook’s Instant Articles, which it released on iPhone back in May 2015, has allowed selected publishes to post light versions of articles that load immediately within the app, without the reader having to go anywhere. If you’ve read an Instant Article you’ll know that the feature feels nice. Almost like articles should be read across all social media channels.

What this means for Twitter (and other social media platforms) is that Facebook may gain even more of a market share in readers and time spent on the platform. Twitter, which is well-known for being a source of news and information, may then find itself losing out to users who prefer to read news sources within a more intuitive platform.

What this means for marketers and brands

As we all know, Facebook is very much a ‘pay to play’ arena and for that reason, not all brands may make the switch. Particularly, if the ability to create media-rich adverts are lost within the new Instant Articles format. However, it’s important to bear in mind the direction of social media channels as they turn into media hubs and where this may leave Twitter. Without it being able to hold the attention of more users (as its recent ‘Twitter Moments’ news feature has tried to do) we may see even more users dropping the channel.

Extended character count

Easily, the most controversial update rumour prior to the demise of the timeline, Twitter could be poised to expand its infamous 140 character limit. According to this Recode article, Twitter is considering a 10,000 character limit for tweets, which is the same as its recently upgraded Direct Messaging character limit.

Sources say that this builds on a quirk that users have already mastered, using creative methods such as a screenshot of a notes page in order to share a longer update.

Users feared that this would merge Twitter into Facebook and other social media channels, ridding it of the feature that makes it so unique – scarcity. However, early reports say that users won’t be bombarded with feeds full of 10,000 character tweets. Instead, the 140-character limit will remain, with a call to action to take an interested follower through to the additional commentary. When you think about it, this isn’t dissimilar to services such as Twitlonger which provide you with a way to exceed the 140 character limit already.

What this means for marketers and brands

The great thing about the 140-character limit is that it demands you to think carefully about your message and craft the very best syntax into your tweet. Some of this may be lost if the limit is removed and we can see there being more than one case of brand-goes-overboard before it all gets figured out. In terms of providing customer service or feedback, it may be a useful tool in getting the information needed from a follower without having to revert to private messaging. It also gives Twitter scope to create more advanced metrics on click-to-expand rate and the amount of time a user was engaged with the tweet, alongside the usual measurements of likes and retweets.

How do you see Twitter’s future affecting your marketing or brand? Share your ideas with us @Twilert or in the comments below – we’d love to hear them!

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Twitter Moments | Twitter 10 years | Twitter Search · January 6, 2019 at 9:22 pm

[…] between users. While the new generations may not ‘get’ Twitter and its constantly evolving feature changes, for us Twitter still holds huge potential for its users. We look forward to seeing what the next […]

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