Wednesday, 15 September 2010

New Twitter - what does it mean?

To date Twitter has been primarily used as a platform for text based conversation and a service for posting links that drive users to other sites. Twitter now has 145 million registered users with 370,000 new users signing up every day. 100 million tweets are sent every day and 78% of users use Twitter through the web based

Last night Twitter held a press event to announce the launch of New Twitter.

The screen interface for will now be divided into 2, the left hand side of the screen will be a stream of tweets from people you follow, the right hand side will be a place for consuming multi-media and other information.

New Twitter - YouTube video opens on right hand side of screen
New Twitter - TwitPic photo shown on right hand side
This means Twitter users will not have to go offsite to view the content contained within links. 16 partners were unveiled last night including YouTube, Vimeo, UStream, Justin.TV, Flickr, TwitPic and YFrog, and any links posted to Twitter from these services will now be able to be viewed on the right hand half of the screen. The Twitter Search bar is also more prominent and the right hand side will also feature more detailed information about users, trending topics, related content and people to follow.

New Twitter - additional information on right hand side
This is all about making Twitter easier and more useful. Since acquiring Tweetie and launching their own official Twitter mobile applications, mobile usage since mid-April has jumped by 62%. Better experience = more users + power users may now abandon Twitter desktop applications like Tweetdeck and Seesmic in favour of the new look

Furthermore, making things easier and more useful will not just make the service more accessible, it will encourage users to use the main website - and stay on it for longer. This opens up more opportunities for partners and ad revenue.

Finally, this changes perceptions about Twitter. Twitter becomes more than a service for text based conversation, it becomes more than just a place that sends you somewhere else, Twitter becomes a Destination in its own right. Last year saw the Twitterification of Facebook as Facebook added a live stream and other Twitter type features. We are now seeing the Facebookification of Twitter as Twitter add on Facebook type functionality.

Brands have rushed to implement Facebook pages which can be used as a online hub – hosting information / updates, photos / videos and conversations too. A Twitter account now becomes a viable alternative to a Facebook page as it can now host the same type of content, the only piece missing is the organic impressions that actions on Facebook Pages create. If I ‘Like’ something on Facebook then my friends are all informed automatically. Twitter doesn’t tell my friends if I follow someone (yet), but this could be a natural next step.

Facebook have the user numbers, whilst Twitter have the impressive Twitter Search at their core (now dealing with 800 million queries per day) - but the big difference, and what could be the ultimate decider, is user information. From day one Twitter has been predominantly open, whereas Facebook launched as a closed, private environment. In their quest to open up user data Facebook are constantly running into barriers as people protest about 'privacy', Twitter don't have the same issues. On Twitter everything is there for the world to see, on Facebook much of it is locked away. This is the same open vs closed battle that we are seeing elsewhere (eg Apple vs Android.) 

Interesting times ahead, can both services offer similar functionality and thrive?

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Posted by Nick Burcher

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