Though news often breaks on Twitter, users are about to see more articles and trending stories in their timelines.
Twitter is rolling out a new feature to all users (including those on desktop, Android and iOS) that pushes links tweeted by members of your network into your timeline. It also groups additional tweets about the same link underneath it.
The new feature aims to make it easier for users to see news articles at a glance, along with who is sharing them. A spokesman for Twitter confirmed the feature to Buzzfeed, which first broke the news.
Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s co-founder and chief executive, confirmed the feature through a tweet:
It’s a good start. Lots more to do here https://t.co/df0THizo1M
— jack (@jack) April 27, 2018
This feature, albeit similar to Facebook’s own method of tidying up the newsfeed, is the latest news-centric Twitter tweak, joining the likes of live news broadcasts and its journalist-focused ‘explore’ tab.
There are a couple of things worth noting about this new feature. For one, it prevents users from seeing the same link shared multiple times throughout their timeline, instead grouping it all under one central heading. On the other hand, this means Twitter is moving farther away from a chronological feed, much like other social networks.
The idea really is an engagement play. Users see the news and clicks (or doesn’t) but it now takes them less time than scrolling past multiple tweets that reference the same thing – a smart move for time-poor users. Users still have the same amount of time for each Twitter visit but now more of that time can be spent looking at ads, content users want to search for and other content Twitter wants to push to you. The curation element has been lacking for some time in Twitter (Moments aside). The new feature could add more social proof to proceedings and offer people a way of garnering value, importance or grandeur of the situation.
The move is another effort by Twitter to attract new users and increase activity on its platform, thereby boosting its attractiveness to advertising partners. However, what takeaways does this announcement give to PR and marketing pros?
Twitter as a news platform
First, communicators of all stripes should note Twitter’s increased focus on being a news app, not simply another social media platform.
Twitter started grouping together tweets about ongoing events back when it launched ” Happening Now.” It only applied to sports topics in the beginning, but this new feature and the one that pushes trending tweets by news organizations to the top of your feed are probably part of its expansion.
Over the past two years, Twitter has made a relentless push into news, seizing on it as an identity it had long lacked.
The company first switched from the “social networking” to the “news” category of the app store in April 2016. Now, it airs live news broadcasts alongside the home timeline; it’s showcasing news and tweets from journalists in its “explore” tab; and it’s experimenting with curated timelines around breaking news events. This new feature will further support that effort.
… News is a key part of twitter’s formula and future. This move is a good indication that Twitter is staying serious about being a news source and more moves in this arena are expected. Twitter beat Q1 estimates with revenue of $665M (up 21% YoY), vs. $605.9M est. Revenue increased 21 percent, the biggest jump in two years. Activity is up too; DAUs are up 10% YoY; MAUs up 3% YoY to 336M vs. 334.2M est. While monthly active users 3 percent rise may not seem like a lot compared to other platform numbers and growth, Twitter is a different kind of product and is used a lot outside.
How communicators can take advantage
Breaking news and news features might be the way that Twitter sustains itself in the changing social media ecosystem, but brand managers would do well to consider that the news focus means increased opportunities for media relations success.
Journalists are Twitter’s largest, most active verified group, and a 2017 Muck Rack survey of reporters revealed that 72 percent track how often their stories are shared online. That means publications as well as its staff are using Twitter to increase their stories’ reach and garner more clicks.
However, brand managers shouldn’t forget that articles are not the only way to reach audiences via social media.
Though this feature seems geared toward wooing marketers, the company said that its video ads are a huge source of marketing revenue. The feature, offered to brand managers through promoted posts, pre-roll ads before publishing partners’ videos and sponsorships with its live video shows, generate more than half of Twitter’s ad revenue.
Now video ads don’t just generate a lot of money for Twitter, they generate the majority of the company’s advertising revenue. Twitter said this week that video ad revenue makes up more than 50 percent of its ad revenue, something that actually happened in Q4 but was only made public this week as part of Q1 earnings.
That means Twitter made a minimum of $287 million on video ads last quarter. Even though Twitter is often considered a distant third in the social video space behind YouTube and Facebook (maybe even fourth behind Snapchat), video ads have clearly become very important to Twitter’s business. You’ll hear a lot about that this week when the company presents all of the video shows and projects it wants to create to media buyers on Monday at the NewFronts.
Lastly, communicators shouldn’t look to any one platform as the silver bullet for digital marketing and PR campaigns—or think that their organizations and clients must be on all of them.
Considering where your audience resides is a crucial consideration to whether or not you should invest time and money building a presence on a particular platform. Keep in mind users’ discontent with platform updates, as well. Many users criticized the new Twitter feature, and user growth has stalled. Other platforms, such as Snapchat, are seeking to make amends with power users that have sworn off new interfaces and updates.
How will the latest changes on Twitter influence your social media strategy? Will you make a bigger investment in the future?
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