3 New Twitter Features You Need to Know About

October 29, 2014

twitter features

Twitter has been rolling out some significant changes lately and, to be frank, a few of them have me worried that Twitter is going to suck, but before I rush to judgement as a user of the platform, I’ll put on my marketing hat and keep my cool. After all, Twitter needs innovation and growth, and as marketers, it behooves us to be aware of these changes and consider how they could impact or enhance our efforts. Here’s a look at some new Twitter features to keep your eye on, and some questions to consider as you do.

1. Twitter Algorithm

You’ve likely seen and heard rumblings of this — the “Facebooking” of Twitter. Twitter has been adjusting content in the newsfeed to include tweets from accounts you’re not following, as well as resurfacing tweets deemed of interest or importance, rather than just delivering a pure feed of posts in reverse chronological order.

For those who make use of Twitter lists, this change is likely to have little effect on their experience. It’s a change that will be most seen by those who rely on their home timeline for content. These are most likely to be casual and/or newer users of the platform, more familiar with a “Facebook style” feed, who might never have known a different newsfeed nor will they care that they are being fed content via an algorithm vs. the Twitter firehose.

For marketers, the allure is better targeting and increased opportunity to reach segmented audiences via promoted content. Definitely something to keep watch of, but be wary. If you’re going to pay to cut through the clutter, you’d better be ready to do so with content that makes an impact, or it’ll fall on deaf ears. (Blind eyes?)

2. Twitter “Buy” Button

Following the launch of #AmazonCart last spring, Twitter announced last month that it would begin testing a “buy” button by rolling out this feature to a small number of users. I speculate we may see more of it during the holiday season. Retailers can add the button to a tweet, and by clicking it, shoppers can then enter payment and shipping information, which is sent directly to the merchant for delivery.

Combine this change with the previously mentioned newsfeed tweaks, and this could have significant impact on the type of content delivered. Will it change the feed into a noisy marketing channel of promoted content? To me, this sort of click-to-buy, frictionless purchasing experience might be better suited for a site like Pinterest, however, Twitter needs to explore additional revenue options if they are going to keep the lights on for any of us.

The bigger implication is that this move allows Twitter to store credit card and shipping information tied to the Twitter users who’ve opted to use the service, making the company more responsible for data security and privacy. Given the massive data breeches of late, will enough consumers even trust their data to Twitter to make e-commerce scale in a profitable way for retailers? Regardless, if you’re an e-commerce company with a consumer product to sell, this is worth keeping an eye on.

3. Twitter Audio Card

This third one really has my interest piqued. Last week, Twitter introduced Twitter Audio Card for iOS and Android devices. This feature offers a more seamless audio listening experience, making it possible to play audio directly in the Twitter timeline and continue listening as you browse inside the Twitter app. It is currently available to Twitter’s SoundCloud partners but, according to their blog, they plan to make it more widely available in the future.

This is certainly something to keep your eye on if you produce(or plan to produce) and share audio content. Although, it begs the question — while someone might listen to a newly released single or short clip, how likely is someone to listen to an entire podcast while browsing within Twitter? As with all shiny new objects, consider both your content as well as your audience and their behavior.

Time will tell which of these changes (if any) will become significant game-changers and stick around for the long haul. In the meantime, keep a watchful eye as Twitter continues to adjust both its business model and product features in the future.

Photo via Flickr user Kevin Krejci

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is a strategist, speaker, educator, and author of Brand Now: How to Stand Out in a Crowded, Distracted World and Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small. He is the Chief Brand Strategist at Brand Driven Digital, an educator at the University of Iowa, and host of the On Brand podcast. More about Nick.