Monday, June 22, 2015

Make lists a core part of Twitter

One of the tougher things about selling the idea of Twitter to new users is that it serves a different purpose for everyone, so communicating what Twitter exactly is, is hard. You can’t simply tell them “hey, welcome to Twitter, this is how you should use it.”

I think they should focus on the interest-based community aspect, because people will follow their friends anyway. And Twitter is a great way to learn from and interact with people you admire or connect with people who share the same interests as you.

Perhaps Twitter should remove the option to make your profile private, because I think you miss out on an important part of the experience. However, I think most people who use Twitter have an open account. But there are also people who never tweet at all and that isn’t a bad thing, because you could also use Twitter as a replacement for an RSS reader.

In my opinion, the best thing they can do is trying to figure out what someone’s interested in during sign-up. I don’t know if they already changed it, but the last time I made an account they suggested random people, which doesn’t make sense.

Personally, I have a lot of lists. Lists is a pretty hidden feature, but I think they are essential when it comes to grouping multiple interests. It’s comparable to Google+ circles. I even think lists should become a core part of what Twitter is, because:

  1. it’s easier for users to manage the accounts they follow (right now, that’s a hell of a job if you follow a lot of accounts)
  2. multiple interest-based timelines provide a higher interesting tweets/total tweets ratio
  3. this could result in a higher engagement ratio
  4. it’s immediately clear what people are interested in so you can give better tweet/account suggestions and trending topics
  5. you can target ads more precisely

I really like this re-imagining of Twitter. And the proposed idea of “stories” that you can follow makes a lot of sense to me. One of my favorite news apps is Circa, because I can follow news stories and every time something new happens, a new card of information is added to the already existing cards. This way I don’t have to look for updates, because they’re coming to me and I can immediately see what previously happened without reading through a long summary or introduction. It works great on mobile, because each card is just a short burst of information. If I need more, I can click a link and visit the source.