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7 Things We Learned At Twitter’s Analyst Day From “While You Were Away” to Native Video
Sharing tweets privately via DM coming next week, the ability to upload native video during the first half of next year.
Twitter held court for stock analysts today in San Francisco, trying to make the case, in a nearly eight-hour presentation, that it’s on the way to building the “largest daily audience in the world.” Analysts have been a skeptical bunch in general, and the company’s stock has dropped after nearly every quarterly earnings call since its IPO last November, mostly because of fears of slowing user growth.
But CEO Dick Costolo and CFO Anthony Noto strongly asserted that Twitter is uniquely positioned to be the place the world turns for real-time information and that it has a plan to exploit both its 284 million users who log in monthly, and perhaps crucially, the 500 million who visit Twitter while logged out. It was the first time Twitter shared a specific number for logged out users; previously it had said such visitors were in the neighborhood of one to two times the logged-in user base.
Wall Street apparently was impressed; Twitter stock closed today at $42.54, up 7.45%. Still even with today’s positive results, Twitter stock is down 33% this year.
Costolo, Noto and a series of Twitter executives shared a rapid flow of strategies, tactics and new initiatives the company is using to go after its goal of building and exploiting that audience. Since the presentations were delivered to a room full of analysts the discussion focused heavily on Twitter’s financial health and future as a business, but there was alway quite a bit of news of interest to marketers who use the platform. Here are seven interesting items:
Instant Timeline: To help ease Twitter’s new user retention problem, Costolo said users will be presented with a full stream of content quickly during the on-boarding process — an Instant Timeline — even if they haven’t followed anyone yet. Currently, too many beginning users start with what Costolo called “unhealthy timelines.” The idea is that by giving new users — or users who signed up previously but haven’t followed many people — an immediate indication of what they can expect to see on the platform, they will be more likely to stick around. Twitter has already worked to streamline the sign-up process and says it’s seeing better retention results, but Twitter is counting on the Instant Timeline feature, which is still in testing, to accelerate the momentum.
Timeline Highlights: In another signal that Twitter will be supplementing the real-time timeline with algorithmic content, director of product management Trevor O’Brien said the company is testing a “While you were away” feature in the mobile app. O’Brien said the feature is one of Twitter’s first attempts to bring “relevance into the home timeline in a way that’s complementary and supplementary to your real-time experience” and that “the goal here is that every time you open the Twitter app, you see something great.”
Twitter, of course, has taken flak from longtime users for experimenting with inserting tweets from people that users aren’t following. This new wrinkle seems like Twitter is both doubling-down on that effort and compromising, since users will see non-real-time tweets but can easily scroll down to the regular timeline.
Techcrunch’s Josh Constine caught a screen grab of the feature:
— Josh Constine (@JoshConstine) November 12, 2014
SEO & Google: Twitter says it is doing more to increase the amount of traffic it attracts from Google and search engines. See our separate story on this: Three Years After Breaking Up, Twitter Wants Back The Google Search Love It Once Had.
DM Features: Costolo promised significant improvements in private messaging within Twitter, starting next week when the company will give users the ability to share and discuss tweets privately via Direct Message.
Native Video: Currently Twitter’s native motion picture options are limited to animated GIFs, six-second Vines and video from publishers and major brands, but in the first half of 2015 it will give users the ability to record, edit and upload video on the network. Citing the example of the many Vines posted during the Ferguson, Mo. protests this summer, Twitter hopes adding video capability will increase the amount of newsworthy video content shared.
Ellen’s Reach: During a presentation about syndication — the extension of Twitter content off the network — director of product, data, April Underwood shared a jaw-dropping statistic about Ellen DeGeneres’ selfie tweet during the Academy Awards. The tweet got a record 3.4 million retweets and was seen, according to Twitter, by 4.2 billion people.
Twitter claims that 4.2 billion people saw the Ellen selfie tweet pic.twitter.com/s6WiRyGwab
— Seth Fiegerman (@sfiegerman) November 12, 2014
Quick Promote: Twitter is in the early stages of testing a streamlined ad campaign launcher for marketers who don’t have the time or inclination to dig into the complexities of the regular ad platform. From the analytics dashboard, users will be able to find tweets that have higher engagement and promote them with two clicks, the first gives a few reach and engagement options (Twitter targets and bids automatically) and the second starts the campaign.
All presentations from the event are available here.