Twitter: An Early Look At What’s Changed

Twitter, the asset management industry’s favorite social network, made some sweeping changes today. While you can count on all of the usual suspect sites (and I say that with gratitude) to provide comprehensive coverage and analysis, I’ll weigh in here with a few comments for mutual fund and exchange-traded fund (ETF) marketers.

You could watch the video, too, although I got very little out of it besides a touch of vertigo.

Limited To Users Of Twitter Properties

Twitter is significantly changing—I’d say improving—the experience on The design will be rolled out to accounts over the next few weeks. One goal was to provide a consistent experience, regardless of the device being used to access Twitter. Changes have already been applied to Twitter’s iPhone, Android apps and to the mobile site. Twitter for iPad and TweetDeck, the desktop app that Twitter owns, also will be updated.

You have to pay attention because you want to be certain that your brand is taking advantage of what it can do now. But, remember that many millions of Twitter account users (it was the majority before Twitter acquired TweetDeck) access Twitter through third-party apps (notably, HootSuite on the desktop). They’re pretty convenient and many people rarely find a reason to go more than once to a profile page on Twitter.

In that respect, I find some of the language Twitter uses to describe these changes as a bit of a stretch. “Visitors to your home page” means one thing when we’re talking about visitors to the home page of your Website, something less when we’re talking about people landing on your Twitter profile page.

By providing additional information on Twitter profile pages, Twitter probably will succeed in driving more eyeballs. Just remember that many more eyeballs will be oblivious to whatever is happening on a Twitter property. Actually, the people who repeatedly consult your profile page may be a new segment for you: lurkers. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Brand Pages

Remember when you lost all that real estate on your Twitter profile background? You will be getting it back and more with today’s introduction on Twitter’s advertising blog of “brand pages.”

The brand pages are an enhanced version of the Twitter profile page so you’ll probably have to take another swing through Compliance but the visit should be short and sweet.

Just a couple of dozen advertising partners, charities and individuals were part of the launch today, and @AmericanExpress the only financial company. Here’s what you’ll be able to do when Twitter eventually enables the capability for your page:

  • Take advantage of space for a large header image for your logo, tagline and any other visuals.
  • Promote the tweet you want to the top of your page’s timeline. It will appear auto-expanded so that visitors can see the photo or video content that you link to.

Twitter’s Re-design

There’s more detail and more to see about what’s been done with the design of Twitter. As suggested by the icons above, the experience has been divided into five states or tabs.

  • Home—The home state can be expanded to show more information such as replies, retweets and embedded photos and videos. Great. By the way, for those of you who have blogs, Twitter now makes it possible to easily embed tweets into the blog, especially if you’re using WordPress or Posterous (are any asset managers using Posterous? Would love to hear).
  • Connect—Previously, the @ sign referred to Mentions but it’s apparently being referred to now as Connect. With a few of the Connect enhancements, Twitter catches up with what the other apps have been able to do for a few years: To learn more about an account and easily follow it and to see an aggregated list of accounts that mentioned your account or re-tweeted one of your tweets. 

This will be interesting. As Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group, told Computerworld, "It will kind of put Twitter into a bit of a new space, transforming it from a tool that people use to make quick informative/snarky comments to more of a home for their informative/snarky comments."

I monitor what’s directed publicly using the @ to asset manager Twitter accounts and some of you can’t like some of what’s tweeted to you. Previously, you may have been comforted by the fact that the reach of the tweet was limited. This changes that because all of those off-the-wall (as well as the on-the-mark) tweets are going to be aggregated right here on the Connect tab.

Twitter seems to be improving the reporting on accounts that favorite a tweet or add your account to a list. Hopefully, this heightened visibility will help drive list usage. I love the ability to create public and private Twitter lists and hope you're using them, too.

  • Discover—This tab is visual and accommodates inline viewing of tweeted images and videos. Even so, it may have limited appeal for Twitter users who already rely on something else (RSS feed reading or mobile apps like Flipboard or Zite) for discovering content.“The more you use it, the better it gets,” Twitter said in a tweet about Discover. Hmm, that sounds a lot like Zite.

Discover also shows what your connections do with the accounts they follow. See who else your connections follow, their lists and what tweets they favorite, retweet or reply to most frequently. For those of you who use Twitter to learn more about your community, having this information at the ready should be very helpful when checked consistently. Lurking? Not when you're doing it.

  • The Me and Tweet tabs look mostly unchanged.

That’s it for now. I plan to keep an eye on the reception that today’s changes get. If something new surfaces or I missed something, I’ll be back to update this post. Naturally, if you have something to say, please do so below.