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Where Is Twitter Headed? The 3 Massive Changes

When Twitter finished its recent funding round closing in over $800 million it became quickly clear to me that the pace of development will increase rapidly.

In just a few weeks, the company acquired several Twitter Apps, including TweetDeck, BackType and BagCheck amongst others. The list of changes on the Twitter product itself is huge too and transforms Twitter as we speak.

Here is a breakdown of the latest massive changes and what they could mean for Twitter’s future:

 

1.) Twitter’s activity stream – A breath of fresh air

One of the most recent changes you might have already discovered is Twitter’s activity stream. This means there is a new tab added on you Twitter profile showing you a number of different actions happening:

  • Retweets from people you follow
  • Favorites from people you follow
  • Follows from people you follow

You might already see how Twitter changed its focus here. Twitter introduced this new activity tab to make it easier for you to “connect with people, and discover what’s happening around you”. It might slightly remind you of Facebook’s activity feed mixing in all different sorts of different activities your friends are up to.

 

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The most striking thing to me is that for the first time you are presented with happenings not tied to your stream.

 

Does this change anything?

The suggestion from MG Siegler that this makes the whole stream a lot more alive and focused on the Social Graph makes a lot of sense. It gives you a change to follow what people are up to on top of following your interest.

I also love the fact that favourites are finally getting exposed and add a new interactive layer on top of retweeting and replying. It is a lighter version of engagement that makes Twitter a lot more versatile to use.

Finally, I believe that it hurts quite a few Twitter Apps who have focused on aggregating various layers of your stream. By Twitter exposing more and different information in their tabs they obviously want you to stay on Twitter.com longer.

 

2.) Twitter’s @username tab – Adding stickiness to Twitter.com?

Another significant change that goes together with the Activity Tab is the @username tab. It replaces your @mentions stream and also adds a lot more richness to it.

You can compare this to Facebook’s red notifications showing you everything that is happening with your account. The tab shows all favourites and retweets of your Tweets and new followers you have gained. The normal @replies and @mentions will of course continue to be displayed there.

 

The first change in this area which happened a few weeks ago, is that you are able to write on somebody’s (Twitter) wall. I believe the intention here is to make interactions more social in a similar way Facebook already allows you. It also puts Twitter closer and closer to the Social Networking behemoth.

 

Why is this important?

What strikes me about this new feature is that the @username tab adds a new degree of stickiness to Twitter. Especially for people that used to find the on-boarding process to Twitter hard and didn’t quite understand what to do.

Tracking who is following you, combined with more insights into what your followers are doing through the activity tab is very powerful I believe.

This focus on the Social Graph and the things happening around you is an interesting turn of events. I feel this might suggest Twitter wants us to hang out on Twitter.com not only for the content, but for what all of our friends are up to in a similar way to Facebook.

 

3.) Photosharing via Twitter – You will get a Photo Gallery!

The third major change, which was already announced a few weeks back is that you can now upload images directly from your Twitter profile.

You can upload any image smaller than 3MB and do so simply by clicking on the photo icon on the bottom left of your message box. In short I found this is all works pretty neatly and the fact that it ties in so seamlessly with Twitter.com makes it a very serious competitor to TwitPic, Yfrog and others.

 

If you are worried about where your picture is going to be hosted, rest assured, they are safely stored on Photobucket. What is most important to note is that these developments are only the very first ones of much more to come around photosharing.

 

How will photosharing develop?

Twitter already mentioned that the uploading feature is only the very first development of much more to come.

The company mentioned that:

“in the coming weeks, we’ll add user media galleries, which will let you see the images a user has shared on Twitter.”

This is really big I believe. Letting you create pictures and galleries in a similar way Facebook already lets you do puts Twitter even more heavily into the game on the Social Graph. What I am curious about is how Twitter is going to display this.

One option is to create an additional tab just for rich media. Another one is to add your gallery right next to your profile picture and information. In either way everything points to pulling users back to the Twitter.com site.

 

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What is next for Twitter?

Integration of new features into TweetDeck and co.

I believe that these new changes are more than just new features. They point in a completely new direction of how we will (or should?) use Twitter in the future.

Implementing many of these developments that make connecting and interacting a lot easier inside official Twitter clients will be an interesting point to see. How can the equivalents of the above look like for TweetDeck, Twitter for Mac and co.?


Spam control

A huge outburst of more Twitter spam recently isn’t exactly speaking in Twitter’s favor. I believe that fighting spam effectively will be one of the most important factors as Twitter grows and establishes itself even more firmly on the Social Media horizon. Dick Costolo tweeted recently:

Yep, we’re working on it. We are trying to migrate from “reactive” to “realtime” to “predictive” on that front.

To me this seems like the big spam issue has high priority and lets hope it will get sorted out soon.

More hiring and acquisitions

If you always wanted to get a job at Twitter, now is the right time. The company is hiring at an unbelievably fast rate, standing at over 600 employees. This is more than double compared to 250 a year ago.

Tackling new problems as Twitter grows will also call for more acquisitions of companies from within the Twitter eco-system.

 

Where do you think Twitter is headed with all this? Are they trying to compete with Facebook? Or is it all just to finally find a better monetization model?

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