To some, it may feel as though, aside from dark mode, very little has changed with Twitter over the past decade. And in many respects, that’s correct. Functionally, while we got twice as many characters to use, the core aspect of Twitter, and the way in which most of nearly 200 million daily users interact, is through shared text tweets, and that hasn’t changed.
So when Twitter released or announced a slew of new – truly new – features and functions over the past few months, many in the industry were taken by surprise. Is this the same Twitter that still, years later, still won’t give us an Edit Tweet button? (And is that coming next?)
Twitter’s Head of Consumer Product, Kayvon Beykpour, recently talked with Nilay Patel from The Verge about how Twitter Is Reinventing Itself and while you are welcome to read the full interview, it’s a bit long. If you just want a synopsis of what’s been changing at Twitter and what’s yet to come this year, the rest of this post is for you.
Ok, we’re going to lead-off with not so much a new feature but a change nonetheless. Twitter will be discontinuing the Periscope app this year and relying solely on Twitter Live. What that means is that, instead of the awkward need to have a separate Periscope profile and connection, you will go Live on Twitter directly just as you would every other major social network.
The live streaming capability of Periscope has been completely integrated into the Twitter environment so the need for a Periscope designation is simply no longer needed. More on that in a moment.
Fleets are a portrait-sized tweet that can be text, an image, or up to 30 seconds of video – and it’s automatically gone after 24 hours, just like Snapchat snaps, Instagram stories, and similar post-types on Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.
Interestingly, Beykpour talked about the need to create a solution for people who are afraid to tweet. He said, “It turns out that some of the reasons they’re not tweeting is they don’t feel safe. They don’t feel safe because what they tweet is subject to public scrutiny. Tweets are on the public record, which is terrifying.” And yet a Fleet, of course, is fleeting. It doesn’t last or persist and therefore can be shared with a greater feeling and degree of safety and security.
Access to Fleets has been rolled out gradually but most should be able to see the now-familiar profile images across the top of their Twitter feed signifying Fleets that have been shared by others. While still lacking many of the bells and whistles consumers have come to expect from snaps and stories, Twitter Fleets do offer the option to integrate ALT text for greater accessibility.
The new feature that’s gotten a lot of buzz recently, and rightly so, is Spaces. Dubbed by many as a yet another clone of another social network’s existing feature – this time, Clubhouse – Spaces is an audio-only format. While still limited in access, those who can start a Space are able to allow anyone else to join and have a voice conversation, like the party lines over telephones from the 1980’s.
Interestingly, though, Twitter did not see Clubhouse take off late last year and decide to suddenly crank out a Clubhouse clone in 3 months. According to Beykpour, Spaces has been in development for over a year and, technically, the capability was already baked into Periscope. The entire development was in line with the reasoning behind Fleets.
He said, “It’s just so basic, but in a way, I think the rise of this audio renaissance that’s happening right now is interesting because it’s taking technology that has fundamentally existed for quite some time and putting a user experience around it and a fidelity around it that allows people to engage in that same job of just having serendipitous conversations with people, but doing it in a way that is synchronous rather than asynchronous, and powered by the human voice rather than text.”
Beykpour also specifically addressed some of the needs that have already been expressed by users of Spaces, namely moderation and recording. Native recording will be a feature that’s added, along with both moderation controls and group moderation capability.
“It’s your Space and you ought to be able to define the social norms of that Space, and we ought to be able to build capabilities that help your community, whether that’s speakers or listeners, enforce those social norms.”
He also reiterated Twitter’s commitment to improving their API and empowering third party tools and developers, and even went so far as to state that the API would be opened for Spaces, paving the way for tools to help businesses better leverage those audio conversations and communities.
Revue is a newsletter platform that Twitter acquired and is in the process of integrating. And the idea is simple: where native Twitter functionality is inherently short-form content, Revue newsletters bring a more long-form content capability to the platform. This allows some users to potentially utilize Twitter in a more robust and holistic way, rather than having to go elsewhere to share longer pieces of information.
More importantly, it’s an avenue for creators to funnel their audience into one of two directions that represent being more than just a passive follower and consumer of tweets.
Which brings us to the the last and most recent new feature, Super Follow. This, in essence, is a way for creators on Twitter to monetize what they’re doing. And before you start thinking you’d never pay anyone for their tweets, consider that the people who might charge for that kind of access would likely be sharing something greater, deeper, than what they typically tweet publicly. Think paid mastermind groups or private coaching, for example.
And, like Revue, this is something that savvy creators and businesses can build and now easily direct followers who are already on the platform to subscribe, if they’re interested.
Which, taken on the whole, this means Twitter has suddenly gone from short, snackable tweets to a far more complete and robust ecosystem upon which creators and businesses can build a thriving community.
Imagine how you might leverage Tweets and Fleets to promote a scheduled Spaces chat featuring you and some special guests, during which you talk about your weekly newsletter on Revue that attendees can subscribe to for free and, if they’re interested, they can subscribe to you as a Super Follower and gain access to your exclusive weekly Twitter Live where you share coaching advice and allow members to ask their questions directly.
All of these developments represent Twitter’s renewed commitment to improving the platform for both consumers and influencers, brands and organizations. Stay tuned for more!