Over the last few weeks, Twitter has sent some clear signals as to where it’s headed with some new features. The new service will look very different from the current site that we all know and love.
Messing with functionality is risky for a service that is so successful because of its simplicity. But for the most part, Twitter seems to be approaching this in a smart way. Here’s what you need to know about the new direction its taking:
1. Changing basic functionality
Twitter is adding new functionality with an “activity stream,” and this is all about bulking up your stream and sharing more of what your friends are doing. Twitter provides this information in a separate tab. This new layer of social activity will help you find more relevant information from the people you follow.
2. Splitting the streams Instagram-style
Anybody using Instagram will recognize these split streams and how good they are for discovering new content and seeing what your friends are up to. The @ mentions will now not only include people talking about you but also people who favorite your tweets, retweet you, add you to lists, and new people who follow you. All of this new information is aimed at keeping you coming back to the site.
3. Big changes coming in all apps
All of these changes are going to affect apps in a big way as they will have to be redesigned to include the new features and activity streams. Everything is pointing towards Twitter’s own apps like the recently acquired Tweetdeck starting to take over from third-party apps. Twitter will be pushing that angle as it wants to make sure it controls as many eyeballs as possible.
4. What do new acquisitions mean?
Twitter has been busy buying start ups and they all seem to be about talent acquisitions. It acquires the engineering talent and works those products into its core offerings. Bagcheck was its most recent acquisition and as its service helps you group different items of interest into lists, you can expect this to be worked into the new activity streams within three to six months. Favorites have been on Twitter since the start, but few people use them and Twitter could be looking for a new way for people to start making lists and curating content.
5. Media within the stream
Twitter’s latest move was to add a way to share images so users don’t have to use third-party apps. It should have had this functionality a lot sooner and this is more a case of plugging the gaps rather than innovating in any great way. Expect more rich media to start coming to the stream just like you would see on Facebook.
6. New ad platforms emerging
All of these changes are about helping users have a better experience, but the ad platform and revenue models play a big part in these radical changes as well. Trying to add ads straight in to a Twitter stream would be tricky and could annoy users. But by adding all these new features, expanding Twitter and filling it full of more media means ads might not get noticed as much.
A version of this article originally ran on SimplyZesty.com.