It’s been almost ten years since Jack Dorsey sent the first tweet and what a decade it has been.
Twitter has grown from an internal service to become the go-to destination for literally billions of conversations, changing how we communicate.
But recently, Twitter has been hit by falling monthly usage and an all-time drop in share value, lagging behind rival Facebook and raising concerns over its future.
In response, Twitter is making changes. The first of which is a curated timeline along with a new video advertising offering called First View. Instead of showing tweets chronologically, an algorithm will deem which tweets are more important to you and display them at the top of the timeline.
Tweets are filtered based on who you most engage with and which tweets have received the most engagement from others, something Facebook has been doing for a while.
This is a significant change for Twitter and one which brands will be keen to utilise to their full advantage.
Brands that have been successfully engaging their customers will see the new timeline work to their benefit. If customers are engaging with your brand, you will have a better chance of being given more prominence. The filter creates a greater level of opportunity for both organic engagement and paid content.
A positive result will be to see brands move away from thinking it’s all about frequency and instead put greater focus on the quality of content on Twitter. This will also be good for users, who do not want a bombardment of high volume communication that saturates their timeline.
Better quality content will increase brand exposure leading to more meaningful engagement.
The advent of First View will allow brands to buy the premium video advertising slot at the very top of users’ timelines. While creating more premium advertising solutions may be attractive to brands, it will be interesting to see how consumers respond to the increased prominence of commercial content.
If they accept this in the way they have with Facebook, then Twitter will become a powerful channel for branded video.
Twitter is clearly focused on how to better monetise its own business by creating greater opportunities for advertising. Brands on Twitter will no longer be confined to promoted hashtags, tweets and cards; there will be other ways to reach audiences. It will be crucial that brands do so with an understanding of what will be welcomed by consumers.
Twitter has a difficult balance to strike. To stay commercially viable it must attract brands and marketers and find a way to make the billions of conversations profitable.
But at the same time it must not alienate its users who prioritise its social value. When news of the algorithmic timeline broke, users vented fury under #RIPTwitter and accused the company of trying too hard to copy Facebook.
However Twitter has a unique offering to users and brands must respect the field of play.
Those creating the most relevant, useful and entertaining content will have the most to gain.
By Kathryn Jefferies, digital operations director at equimedia