New Twitter is an Information, not, a social network

Since the announcement of the launch of “New Twitter” yesterday, the Social Media world has been buzzing about all the changes and their impact on usage.

If you have missed out on the buzz, we will be sharing the long and the short of the “New Twitter” and some must read resources.

Twitter has been faced with several challenges, mostly stemming from “paradox of growth” -

  1. New users have often been confused about what they can do with Twitter and the company has struggled to communicate the relevance and significance to this set of the user base
  2. While the overall growth has been phenomenal, the company witnessed a drop in traffic to Twitter.com as many of the existing users have been using third party clients as TweetDeck. Bringing features that would enhance the value of interaction on the core Twitter.com platform was imperative to arrest a further decline
  3. Frequent outages have been a constant issue but things got really bad when Twitter admitted June 2010 as the worst month “from a site stability and service outage perspective”

So. What’s new in the new version of Twitter? We take a quick look from the perspective of core proposition, content and design

Core Proposition – Twitter is NOT a Social Network

In the words of Kevin Thau, Twitter’s VP for business and corporate development, Twitter is not a Social Network. It is an Information network.  It’s clear that the Twitter is placing greater importance on its proposition as a means of content consumption than content creation. The message is aimed at all those users, who so far have been out of the fold since they have “nothing to say” on Twitter. Like Kevin Thau is said to have communicated -

it’s OK if you think you’re not interesting enough to have your own Twitter account. Don’t apologize if you don’t tweet – just come to Twitter and consume content instead

This change manifests itself in the new version of Twitter, where the status update segment no longer asks you, ‘what are you doing?’, it actually prompts you ‘what’s happening?’

Also, the new landing page has a Google like search box, allowing users to look for information which is filtered by popularity.

Twitter officials in past too have said that unlike popular comparison with Facebook, they are actually more like Google and the new prominent search box feature corroborates the view

Content – accessing more in less

As Twitter team states in its official post on the blog about the new version -

Twitter has always been about getting a lot in a little. The constraint of 140 characters drives conciseness and lets you quickly discover and share what’s happening. Yet, we’ve learned something since starting Twitter—life doesn’t always fit into 140 characters or less.

From a content point of view here are the key highlights -

  1. Rich media experience – Twitter has partnered with 16 partners for audio and video – DailyBooth, DeviantART, Etsy, Flickr, Justin.TV, Kickstarter, Kiva, Photozou, Plixi, Twitgoo, TwitPic, TwitVid, USTREAM, Vimeo, yfrog, and YouTube. Now, embedded photos and videos will be directly visible on the Twitter timeline. No more of opening the cumbersome links!
  2. Related content – each tweet will be richer with the detail panel also now showing related information about the author and subject

Design – an easier, faster, and richer experience

TechCrunch has shared a comprehensive assessment of the best subtle things about new Twitter. Some of the interesting changes are-

  • Mini-profiles – quick access to bio without navigating from the page
  • Cleaner timeline and richer details pane – infinite scroll offers much awaited respite. No longer, need to go to “more” to go to next page of tweets!
  • Keyboard shortcuts – one more reason while Twitter.com will be easier to use than apps, the new version enables easy shortcuts for commands as DM, RT, Reply etc. To see the full list, you can read this
  • Real names appear – the new design will allow easy view of the actual name other than the Twitter name of the user

You can check out the official video on the launch of new Twitter below:

To follow current conversation on the new version, do follow #newtwitter.

While we look forward to trying out the new version over the next few weeks, do share your thoughts on the new Twitter — Will it help solve some of Twitter’s long lasting problems?  Since the beginning of the year Twitter users on mobile are up 250%. And Twitter has recognised how Mobile is critical for the future. Will growth of mobile in India take Twitter further mainstream from a fairly elite group so far? What will be the impact on marketers if this emerges as a strong channel?