Essays Tech

7 ideas on how I think Twitter could succeed in 2017

NOTE: This is a repost from my article on Tech in Asia

This is a follow-up post to my previous post, “Twitter is the Townhall of the World,” where I highlighted that Twitter is still winning in many fronts and that it deserves more recognition for what it has already built.

In this post, I want to discuss how the social media network could tweak or make small changes to its app design so that it could create higher engagement from its users and open more opportunities to grow its revenue.

Here are my seven ideas:

1. Related tweets

There is still a lot of room for growth in this area.

A tweet is considered as an idea, an intent, or a desire that people really want to share with the world.

These intents and desires are very important to the Twitter experience. They create serendipitous moments and that feeling that you are not alone in the universe. Users with similar thoughts, intents, desires, and interests engage with each other.

So, it would be good if Twitter could show, for every three tweets, a related tweet that aligns with users’ interests. If implemented well, it would not only serve users better but also create more ways for the social network to increase its revenue.

2. Related tweets in tweet insights

Right now, if you want to check the stats of a tweet that you have previously made, you need to tap on that small stat icon after you tap on a specific tweet. Those many steps are far from desirable.

A better way to access your tweet insights or stats should take just a single tap—just tap a specific tweet and you should be able to see your tweet and a summary of its stats immediately. That’s also the best place for something else.

Yes, you’ve guessed it right. It’s the best place to show related tweets, which could delight more users and represent a good opportunity to show related sponsored tweets. Again, I can’t stress enough that the sponsored tweets must share similar interests as the users’. Why? I will share more about that later when I talk about timely ads.

3. Extended Twitter profiles

Twitter profiles are simple, and that’s a good thing. But at the same time, it might be dated and also restricting Twitter’s growth. While I am a big fan of simplicity, I believe mature platforms need to grow and find new ways to be even more useful.

So how do you add complexity while keeping things simple? Add an element to the profile page that could be expanded and collapsed when you don’t need it. Hence, it’s not a “new profile” but an “extension” of an existing profile.

Twitter has millions of active users and it should aim to boost that number to billions. But how do you do that? Is it by subtly adding new value propositions into its core features or products like Twitter profiles? Perhaps. Now with extended Twitter profiles, you could add components like your resume. This way, users could benefit from allowing people to discover more about them without leaving the platform.

This enhances the user experience, and in return, enhances the social network in a big way. Twitter will also benefit from getting more demographic and personal data about its users, which it could use to enhance the targeting strategies of its marketing efforts. Better targeting means better advertising, which means less annoying ads and more relevant ads.

4. Twitter influencers (top replies)

If you are following Elon Musk or the politicians, you’d know that there are just too many replies to these big personalities when they tweet; so much so that it’s becoming harder to sift through the noise and see some thoughtful replies from other top influencers. Therefore, it would be really nice to have a sorting solution when you tap on tweets to see replies.

If you look at the screenshot of the tweaked design below, it becomes clear that this feature is urgently needed. While you are able to see and sort the replies based on Top, Latest, People, Photos, Videos, and News, you can also easily see the opportunity for sponsors to utilize that space to send out their message (again, with a strong emphasis on relevance).

5. Enhanced Twitter lists

Another lost opportunity I feel that Twitter is not focusing enough on is Twitter lists. First things first, if you are using the mobile app, it’s really hard to access your own created lists.

If I am not mistaken, one way to access your Twitter lists is tapping on your own profile on the navigation bar and then tapping on the settings icon on your profile (somehow it’s hidden there) and then from the pop up, tapping on Lists to open up the page where all of your lists are kept. That’s a really painful user experience.

Why couldn’t we access our lists by long pressing on the Home icon on the navigation bar? Just like how you would long press on your profile icon to change or switch different profiles. So once you are on the Twitter lists page, it would be nice if there is an option to filter through tweets in those lists with keywords.

For example, I have created a list of Twitter users who tweet about technology, but I should be able to add a filter to those tweets to only show tweets that have the keywords apps, mobile, SaaS, and social networking, for example. This way, I could see the tweets I want to see from my lists, and not tweets that don’t interest me.

These features definitely make more powerful Twitter lists that users could enjoy.

6. Related hashtags

Anyone who uses Twitter knows what hashtags are. Hashtags are core to the Twitter experience and therefore need to be given center stage (even more if it already is).

A hashtag is more concise than a tweet but it tells you a lot. It links to all other tweets that share the same idea. It is actually a very powerful concept.

That to me is a missed opportunity. Users should be able to find related hashtags when they see someone share a hashtag or when they tweet with a hashtag. The idea is similar to related tweets. It’s to create serendipitous moments that please users.

Some machine learning or AI would probably be needed to recognize each tweet and to cause relevant hashtags to show up. For example, you can see how it’s implemented on the screenshot of the tweaked Twitter app design that I made.

7. Timely ads

Personally, I always feel Twitter is a very special platform. If I need to sum it up in just a few words, I would definitely use “timely” as one of those words. Tweets are timely, the social network should make its marketing products timely as well.

But what makes timely ads work well? It has to have some sort of serendipitous moment to it, which in most cases, that moment is created after a user completed an action.

Actions may include tweeting itself, marking a tweet as favorite, or replying to it. These are usual social engagements, full of thought, intent, desires, or interests. These actions are stronger in sentiment and emotion.

If Twitter could capitalize on these actions without being too intrusive, then it could succeed even more. Some of the ideas that I have already mentioned above could use timely ads and it’s up to Twitter to make further enhancement on these ideas to make it work for them.

A lot of people, particularly investors, like to link Twitter’s scenario to how Yahoo is doing. After all, Yahoo was once a big and successful online company until it started suffering amid new competitors and shifts in technological trends. It has since been on a downward spiral.

As for Twitter, it is a very different platform and it’s far from being in trouble. I really think and see that Twitter has grown a lot from the past years and is maturing to become a more adult-age platform. Perhaps, it’s even ready to take on more challenges while staying true to its core vision.

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of the companies or brands mentioned in the post. All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them. All rights reserved.