Twitter Wants Micro-Messengers to Stick Around Longer

Twitter is revamping its Web page so that users will actually stay on the site. With its reliance on 140-character messages that typically link to other content, Twitter’s model was tailor made to send users elsewhere.

The design changes and new partnerships with content providers are meant to keep users at the site longer — and hopefully draw in more advertisers.

Twitter is rolling out the changes incrementally to its 160 million-user base. At the center of the redesign is a two-pane format: Links clicked on the left-hand side open up on the right. The result is that users will be likely to stay on Twitter longer instead of navigating away to check out a link.

Other features include infinite scroll, which means the user no longer has to click “more” to view additional tweets, and the ability to see a mini profile of a user without navigating away from the page.

Twitter has forged partnerships with DailyBooth, deviantART, Etsy, Flickr, Justin.TV, Kickstarter, Kiva, Photozou, Plixi, Twitgoo, TwitPic, TwitVid, USTREAM, Vimeo, yfrog, and YouTube to make it easy to see and embed video, which also could significantly bolster use of Twitter.

Better Toolbox

Being able to view links, images and even video without having to open a new window “creates more of a conversation to get involved in,” said Kristen D. Wesley, digital media specialist with Environics Communications.

“You don’t have to flip back and forth from one Twitter user page to another,” she told TechNewsWorld.

The integration of these functions and tools will be a huge benefit, according to Jennifer L. Cherry, vice president of Marx Layne.

“What they are doing is combining a lot of the best features of third-party programs, which I think is great,” she told TechNewsWorld. “Oftentimes, I bounce back and forth from Twitter to a third-party tool that does something I want done with Twitter, but the site doesn’t support.”

Advertising Benefits

The greatest benefit will likely accrue to Twitter itself, in the form of increased advertising dollars. Users who stay on the Twitter page for longer periods of time will be more likely to see a promoted tweet, Wesley pointed out.

It won’t just be Twitter users who will be take advantage of the new ability to embed videos or images, pointed out Michael Hussey, CEO and founder of PeekYou.

“Videos are proving to be better in terms of engagement than banner ads,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Also, it helps companies build a platform in which users can engage or respond.”

Advertisers will take this functionality and build something similar to what Facebook is doing with its promoted pages, predicted Hussey.

However, it may take more than this redesign to boost Twitter’s advertising in the view of Jim McGregor, chief technology strategist with In-Stat.

“I don’t think it will have a great impact for Twitter’s advertising potential, simply because there are too many ways for people to access the Twitter feeds and completely avoid the website itself,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Third-Party Developers

One group likely to be unhappy with the changes are third-party developers who offer similar functionality.

This is not the first time devs have been edged out by Twitter, observed Hussey. “Twitter has used a lot of the third-party app developers to discover what works best, and their road map includes incorporating the winning concepts directly into their platform.”

It’s a risk that all app developers face, he said, regardless of the platform.

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