What to make of the latest move by Twitter to use its messaging platform to facilitate shopping? The social media platform said on 18th June that it had begun testing a new system that would be promoting both “products and places” in its feeds.
The objective of this move from the point of view of Twitter is to increase revenues. In its most recent update, the company revealed that it has an active user base of approximately 300 million. However, Twitter’s growth has been lagging behind other social media platforms, and it has not yet recorded a profit. In addition, Twitter’s slice of the digital advertising market – put at $145 billion globally for 2015 – is slightly less than one per cent, compared to just under half a per cent in 2014, according to figures published by eMarketer, the research firm. It is entirely understandable, then, that Twitter wants to put itself on a firmer financial footing.
Amaryllis Fox, product manager at Twitter, used the company’s official blog to explain the move, telling users that as the test proceeds, they may see within their news feeds “pages and collections of pages that are shared by influencers and brands.” As a result of the change, Twitter will begin expanding beyond tweets to incorporate containing content on products and in a number of cases “buy” buttons.
The redesigned Twitter will also enable designated “curators” to engage with users in a way that overcomes the 140-character limit of a tweet. Twitter announced on 12th June that it intends removing the 140-character limit in respect of direct messages and increasing it to 10,000, with the rollout being available for general users by July. Brands signed up for the program include Nike and the US retail giant Target.
Users worried about spam will welcome a new feature, allowing them to curate their own blocked-users lists and share them with other users. The shared lists can be imported to other Twitter accounts by their owners.
Users of Twitter, especially early adopters, might be concerned at the company’s new level of engagement with the promotion of brands, but if those users are committed to Twitter, then anything that solidifies the platform’s future is something to be welcomed.