With Twitter to soon welcome its 500 millionth account is it time for the service to change to better reflect its new purpose?
Despite our best efforts to cling to the past we must finally concede that Twitter is no longer a social network - or that aspect at least now plays second fiddle. It feels as though the service is caught between two ideals - stuck in transition like a butterfly stuck in its chrysalis.
The company has positioned Twitter as an information network but many still think of it as social. We must wonder if this will be a barrier to its progression as a service?
There have been a number of changes such as the #discover tab which promote the idea of it being a place to find things but, conversely, you also get the mixed message of @connect which aims to improve our social experience; each tab is equally visible but @connect is listed first - not the action you would expect.
Admittedly, any change has to be gradual in order to keep us along for the ride but change must come.
For twitter to be taken seriously in its new, self-styled role I think it needs to move away from the feed driven beast we have all known for the past 6 years.
Don't talk, discover
#discover was a bold move as it was a departure from the status quo. I have said previously that the acquisition of Summify was a perfect opportunity to really enhance this by making it more personal (especially with SPYW getting a lot of attention). Twitter needs to step up to the plate and make this happen. Rather than getting standard "stories" or location-based trends our experience should be better tailored to our own usage:
- what is in our profile?
- who do we follow and how are they described?
- what hashtags do we use?
- what brands do we follow or interact with?
Combine personalised information with key trending topics and you would have a powerful tool to keep people coming back to the service.
The feed is dead
Now that our feed is predominantly awash in a sea of links it is not a very inviting place. Perhaps the time has come for Twitter to move away from this means of display and instead use a new enhanced #discover tab as the primary view when arriving at the site.
I wrote in March last year that Twitter could go beyond the hashtag and use a form of channels to better facilitate topic based discussion. With a main news view this might be a perfect time to make such a move. With increasing usage of Twitter to discuss trending topics, sports events and "Social TV" we could be approaching the time when conversation on Twitter will occur away from the primary view and be mainly based on what we discover?
Could Twitter actually become a place where we "consume" news first and talk about it after? Is this too radical a shift from the service we all know and love or is it a logical conclusion based on recent events?
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