Twitter isn’t saying anything officially, but by all appearances the company has launched a new experiment that could increase user engagement and retention.
The experiment is simple: Anyone that follows the @EventParrot account will start to get breaking news delivered via direct messages.
It functions much the same as the @MagicRecs experiment that Twitter launched this summer.
I followed the account late last night, and this DM arrived overnight:
A Twitter spokesperson declined to say if the account is official or not, but you can be sure it is. The profile begins with, “This is a Twitter experiment” and — as TechCrunch points out — almost all of the account’s original followers are Twitter employees. It has all the signs of being official.
The account addresses a longstanding problem that Twitter has faced, particularly one that impacts new users: how to deliver (or find) relevant and meaningful content in the growing stream of tweets. It’s been reported over the years that many new users give up on Twitter because they don’t know how or where to find meaningful content, or they can’t filter the stream because it’s overwhelming.
An alert service like @EventParrot could help with that. Add that to the @MagicRecs experiment, and the recently announced Twitter Alerts for emergency information, and you see Twitter clearly moving more aggressively toward notifications as a means to increase user interest, retention and engagement.
What’s not clear is how @EventParrot chooses what content it should send out. No disrespect to Ms. Munro and her Nobel Prize, but that alert isn’t of great interest to me. Twitter has a series of departments — Twitter Media, Twitter Government, Twitter Sports, etc. — and I can envision the company developing this experiment further and giving users a choice on what kinds of alerts they want to get based on that internal company structure. Maybe someday….
Postscript: For the record, Twitter’s Paul Stamatiou has confirmed that this is an official Twitter account:
Ssshh.. we're testing a new Twitter experiment. All you have to do is follow @EventParrot. It'll DM you with breaking news.
— Paul Stamatiou (@Stammy) October 10, 2013
(Stock image via Shutterstock.com. Used under license.)