Twitter Gets a Touch-up to Improve Marketing and User Engagement

Michael Essany Headshot by Michael Essany on December 12, 2011
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Twitter is undergoing a high-profile tweak aimed at making everything from user interaction to brand marketing simpler and more effective. The changes began surfacing Dec. 8 in updates to Twitter’s smartphone and tablet applications and subsequently rolled out to internet browsers.

Jack Dorsey, who pioneered the short messaging service, announced last week that Twitter is updating its platform to make it faster and more personal. “Twitter should be usable for people who know the shortcuts and also equally usable for those who don’t,” Dorsey noted. The visual and conceptual redesign, he said, will make Twitter more accessible “to the next billion users.”

For example, to encourage more active user engagement, Twitter unveiled a Discover tab that gives users quick access to popular hashtags (#) and greater opportunity to participate in the conversations. The Connect (@) tab enables users to see who’s recently followed, mentioned, or retweeted them.

Twitter’s top brass is hopeful that the freshly introduced features will not only keep people tweeting like there’s no tomorrow, but also advance corporate users’ commercial interests through these aggressive new marketing tools.

New Edge for Marketers

Like recent efforts by Facebook and Google+, Twitter’s new brand pages aim to better accommodate marketers. “As part of this release, we are introducing enhanced profile pages that help marketers create an even more compelling destination on Twitter for their brands,” the company announced on its Advertising Blog. Chief Revenue Officer Adam Bain explained to Ad Age, “A tweet’s only 140 characters. Brand pages are like an invitation to learn more. When consumers want to learn more, spend more time, or get deeper in terms of engagement, we think they’ll end up on the brand page.”

Businesses that use Twitter for social-media marketing will have the ability to upload slightly larger photos as their default image for the purpose of obtaining a visually striking and more memorable presence. Each company will also be able to maintain a handpicked tweet at the top of its page. If this particular tweet delivers a photo or video, the content will enlarge automatically whenever a user scrolls over it.

So far, Twitter has recruited 21 top global marketers, including advertising heavyweights Disney, McDonald’s, and PepsiCo, for branded pages — all of which will roll out  as the complete Twitter redesign goes live in the coming weeks. Best of all, as branded pages become accessible to the masses, this marketing resource will likely benefit the thousands of small businesses that currently rely on social media to promote their brands, products, and services in a cost-effective manner.

Big Changes, Subtle Differences

Overall, the adjustments to Twitter will be subtle: Users will only see the revamped marketing components if they visit an actual brand’s profile page. What’s more, the new tabs are identical across devices. “You get the same experience on mobile and desktop — anywhere, anytime,” the company says.

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