Changes to Twitter: bringing in the ‘news feed’

Tweet

Twitter is rolling out two new changes to its web app from today.

Until now, Twitter’s success has been in its simplicity. It shows you a timeline of simple text based updates from your friends, offering you the option to reply, share content or favourite for later. Twitter’s focus has been on how you interact and share the content you’ve subscribed to by following people, and other than seeing your friends tweets, retweets or mentions they are largely invisible to your Twitter experience.

Missing from this picture, however,  is one of the key elements of truly ‘social’ media: engaging with content based on what my friends have enjoyed or recommended. Facebook’s integration of the ‘Like’ button across its own products and the web in general is a great example of this. How much more likely are you to click on a piece of content or read a link if you see one of your friends has liked it?

Twitter’s response to this gap has been to roll out two new features:

1. The ‘@mentions’ tab
Previously this showed all the Tweets mentioning your username, but it will now show any users who have begun following you, any tweets of yours which have been favourited, and any lists which you have been added to.

2. ‘Activity’
This is a mirror image of the @Mentions tab, but for those people you follow. It surfaces the retweets by the people you follow, and will tell you when they follow someone new.
In a sense there’s nothing really new about either of these features - you’ve always been able to see the tweets your friends have favourited, for example. But what has been missing is a simple way to surface this content for users who either don’t know how to get to it or end up being so focused on what their friends are tweeting that their other interactions on Twitter fade into the background.

Take the recent  ‘@riotcleanup’ account, which was set up following the  london riots and civil disorder across the UK. In the 72+ hours the account has been active it’s gained nearly 90,000 followers - an impressive number, but a number I could see easily beaten once Twitter starts surfacing the new accounts your friends are following alongside mentions of that account itself.

It will be fascinating to see what the reaction will be like to these new updates.

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One Comment

  1. The OpenSure Free Press 22nd August 2011 - OpenSure Blog:

    [...] column. If you want to find out more visit this MediaBistro article and this FreshNetworks blog post. Google is mixing things up too: it has expanded the number of site links shown in search results, [...]