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Twitter Previews Potential Enhancements for Lists and Topics, Including Activity Details and Location Sorting

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After adding lists as alternate, swipeable tweet feeds back in September, and then topics as an additional following option two months later, Twitter is now working to give lists and topics even more focus, with a range of updates designed to help improve content discovery, and connect more people – particularly new users – to increasingly relevant, engaging tweet content.

As part of a recent interview with Fast Company, various members of Twitter’s design and development teams provided insight into where the company is headed on both lists and topics, the introduction of which is designed to make it easier for people to link into the conversations of relevance to them.

As noted by Twitter product designer Steve Zimmerman:

“People would hear about all the great stuff that happened on Twitter all the time, and they just couldn’t find it. It’s like, ‘Oh my God, did you see what’s happening on NBA Twitter?’ And people would search for ‘NBA Twitter’ and be like, ‘Is this it? Have I found it? Is it a hashtag or something?’”

As Twitter looks to usher in the next generation of users, it’s hoping that by providing more discovery options, it will make the platform more accessible, and give people more of what they want – and less of what they don’t.

So how can Twitter facilitate this? Here’s a look at some of the features in the works:

Topic Activity Insights  

In order to help people better understand what they’ll see in their timeline if they follow a specific topic, Twitter’s developing new preview elements on topic listings, which would display things like related hashtags and follower counts, as well as notes on how active the topic is in the app.

Twitter Lists update

A particularly helpful, potential addition is the estimate of daily tweet volume, so you would be able to see, before you tap ‘follow’, just how many tweets you’ll potentially be piping into your feed by becoming a fan.

Twitter lists update

Improved Induction Process

Twitter’s also looking to refine its timeline set-up process for new users, which would take them through a range of simple steps to refine their interests – and ideally, keep them engaged through topics and lists.

Twitter topics intro

Based on your responses at each stage, the process would recommend profiles, topics and hashtags to follow. And interestingly, Twitter’s also working on a ‘location’ option, which would not only enable users to signify that they’re interested in tweets from or about a region, but also which specific elements of that area they’re most interested in being updated about. 

As per Fast Company:

“[Twitter has] explored what-ifs such as the ability to follow a place – say, San Francisco – on Twitter. And then to specify which aspect of that place you cared about most – such as its food, music, and art – so that your San Francisco Twitter might be strikingly different than someone else’s.”

That could be a good way to stay in touch with local conversations, while also filtering out the noise of, say, tourist shots or local marketing posts.

Improved Relevance

Of course, all of this is irrelevant if Twitter’s topic streams end up filled with spam – which is what currently tends to happen with trending hashtags, and the hashtag “jackers” who use those rising discussions to peddle their offerings.

Luckily, Twitter knows this.

As part of its development of topics, Twitter’s building new systems which can better identify tweets based on the content of each, as opposed to merely piping tweets from high profile users related to the subject into the stream. That means that if you follow ‘Basketball’, for example, you’re ideally not going to see a tweet from LeBron James about a non-basketball subject, despite James being a high-profile user, and his tweets generating high engagement.

Twitter’s looking to utilize not only machine learning in this context, but also human editorial input, in order to ensure that each topic stream maintains relevance. That’ll be a difficult balance to maintain, especially as it looks to scale topics further, but it will be key to ensuring that the topic streams offer something new and valuable for its audiences.

Custom List Headers

Lastly, Twitter is also looking to develop new, custom image header cards for lists, providing another personalization element to the option. You can see an example of the custom image cards on the left below.

Twitter List header cards

At present, lists come with a randomly generated stock image (like those in the example on the right), which, as of last month, now also show up as a preview card in tweets when you share a list URL.

Twitter list preview card

Users will soon be able to further customize their display images, while Twitter’s also looking to add in a new list discovery element, which will enable users to sort through “the full universe of all these user-generated timelines” in order to connect with relevant, alternate tweet streams.

Each of these updates is interesting within itself, and each holds significant potential, with new ways to showcase your favorite content, and to discover more relevant, interesting insights from across the tweet spectrum. And while long-time users may not glean significant value from such, having already refined their tweet experience to a large degree, they may still find some value in additional options like location sorting, while the larger focus of the potential changes remains on getting new users more acquainted with the app.

That’s particularly relevant for international markets, where Twitter is now seeing the vast majority of its growth.

Twitter mDAU Q3 19

As you can see in this chart, while Twitter has only added four million new monetizable daily active users in the North American region over the last year, it’s added more than 4x that in other parts of the world.

For these users, who are less familiar with the app, refining the tweet discovery process could be a massive improvement.

Given this, it makes a lot of sense for Twitter to make it a focus, and it’ll definitely be an element to watch as we move into 2020.

Socialmediatoday.com

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Snap making changes to direct response advertising business

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Snap making changes to direct response advertising business

The company posted a net loss of $288.5 million, or 18 cents a share, including $34 million in charges from its workforce restructuring. That compared to a profit of $23 million, or one cent, a year earlier.

Snap ended the fourth quarter with 375 million daily users, a 17% increase. In the first three months of the year, the company estimates 382 million to 384 million people will use its platform daily.

Snap has become a bellwether for other digital advertising companies. Last year, it was the first to raise concerns about the slowdown in marketer spending online and to fire a significant number of employees—20% of its workforce—to cut costs in the face of falling revenue.

The company has spent the last two quarters refocusing the organization, cutting projects that don’t contribute to user and revenue growth.

In the first quarter, Snap expects the environment to “remain challenging as we expect the headwinds we have faced over the past year to persist.”

Investors will get additional information about the state of the digital ad market when Meta and Alphabet report earnings later this week.

—Bloomberg News

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Twitter Outlines New Platform Rules Which Emphasize Reduced Reach, as Opposed to Suspensions

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Twitter Outlines New Platform Rules Which Emphasize Reduced Reach, as Opposed to Suspensions

After reinstating thousands of previously suspended accounts, as part of new chief Elon Musk’s ‘amnesty’ initiative, Twitter has now outlined how it will be enforcing its rules from now on, which includes less restrictive measures for some violations.

As explained by Twitter:

“We have been proactively reinstating previously suspended accounts […] We did not reinstate accounts that engaged in illegal activity, threats of harm or violence, large-scale spam and platform manipulation, or when there was no recent appeal to have the account reinstated. Going forward, we will take less severe actions, such as limiting the reach of policy-violating Tweets or asking you to remove Tweets before you can continue using your account.”

This is in line with Musk’s previously stated ‘freedom of speech, not freedom of reach’ approach, which will see Twitter leaning more towards leaving content active in the app, but reducing its impact algorithmically, if it breaks any rules.

Which means a lot of tweets that would have previously been deemed violative will now remain in the app, and while Musk notes that no ads will be displayed against such content, that could be difficult to enforce, given the way the tweet timeline functions.

But it does align with Musk’s free speech approach, and reduces the onus on Twitter, to some degree, in moderating speech. It will still need to assess each instance, case-by-case, but users themselves will be less aware of penalties – though Musk has also flagged adding more notifications and explainers to outline any reach penalties as well.

“Account suspension will be reserved for severe or ongoing, repeat violations of our policies. Severe violations include but are not limited to: engaging in illegal content or activity, inciting or threatening violence or harm, privacy violations, platform manipulation or spam, and engaging in targeted harassment of our users.

Which still means that a lot of content that these users had been suspended for previously would still result in suspension now, and it leaves a lot up to Twitter management in allocating severity of impact in certain actions.

How do you definitively measure threats of violence or harm, for example? Former President Donald Trump was sanctioned under this policy, but many, including Musk, were critical of Twitter’s decision to do so, given that Trump is an elected representative.

In other nations, too, Twitter has been pressured to remove tweets under these policies, and it’ll be interesting to see how Twitter 2.0 handles such, given its stated more lax approach to moderation, despite its rules remaining largely the same.

Already, questions have been raised on this front – Twitter recently removed links to a BBC documentary that’s critical of the Indian Government, at the request of India’s PM. Twitter hasn’t offered any official explanation for the action, but with Musk also working with the Indian Government to secure partnerships for his other business, Tesla, questions have been raised as to how he will manage both impacts concurrently.

In essence, Twitter’s approach has changed when it chooses to do so, but the rules, as such, will effectively be governed by Musk himself. And as we’ve already seen, he will make drastic rules changes based on personal agendas and experience.

Twitter says that, starting February 1st, any previously suspended users will be able to appeal their suspension, and be evaluated under its new criteria for reinstatement.

It’s also targeting February for a launch of its new account penalties notifications.



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4 new social media features you need to know about this week

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New social media features to know this week


Social media never stands still. Every week there are new features — and it’s hard for the busy comms pro to stay up-to-date on it all.

We’ve got you covered.

Here’s what you need to know about this week.

LinkedIn

Social media sleuth Matt Navarra reported on Twitter that LinkedIn will soon make the newsletters you subscribe to through the site visible to other users.

This should aid newsletter discovery by adding in an element of social proof: if it’s good enough for this person I like and respect, it’s good enough for me. It also might be anopportunity to get your toe in the water with LinkedIn’s newsletter features.

Instagram

After admitting they went a little crazy on Reels and ignored their bread and butter of photographs, Instagram continues to refine its platform and algorithm. Although there were big changes over the last few weeks, these newer changes are subtler but still significant.

 

 

First, the animated avatars will be more prominent on profiles. Users can now choose to flip between the cartoony, waving avatar and their more traditional profile picture, rather than picking one or the other, TechCrunch reported, seemingly part of a push to incorporate metaverse-esque elements into the app.

Instagram also appears to have added an option to include a lead form on business profiles. We say “appears” because, as Social Media Today reports, the feature is not yet listed as an official feature, though it has rolled out broadly.

The feature will allow businesses to use standard forms or customize their own, including multiple choice questions or short answer.

Twitter

In the chaotic world of Twitter updates, this week is fairly staid — with a useful feature for advertisers.

The platform will roll out the ability to promote tweets among search results. As Twitter’s announcement points out, someone actively searching for a term could signal stronger intent than someone merely passively scrolling a feed.

Which of these new features are you most interested in? That LinkedIn newsletter tool could be great for spreading the word — and for discovering new reads.

Allison Carter is executive editor of PR Daily. Follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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