Social Media Tools

4 Ways the Twitter You Know is Changing Forever

4 Ways Twitter is Changing.pngJay Baer Blog PostTwitter is on its way to becoming something entirely different.

This isn’t a new phenomenon, as Twitter’s first incarnation as short form narcissism gave more than a kernel of truth to the old complaint among non-users that “they didn’t want to know what people had for lunch.” Once Oprah gave Twitter her imprimatur, the service crossed the chasm (6 million members before she joined in April, 2009 and 105 million a year later). At that point, Twitter became less about you and more about what’s worthy of attention.

Twitter became (and still is) the headline news of the modern age. It’s a collection of observations and links to other observations. The rise of Twitter was accompanied by the slow demise of RSS and Digg, as the surging popularity of the 140-character kid made many previous pointing and info-gathering technologies unnecessary.

But now, the Twitter you know (and presumably, love) is morphing again. Fueled by the need to go IPO to produce returns for a lengthening list of investors (Twitter raised $800 in its 2011 financing round alone), the company seeks to become a platform not a tool. Simultaneously, members of the Twitter developer ecosystem are reimagining ways that Twitter can be utilized, beyond the familiar.

Here are four things Twitter is – or will become.

1. Twitter as a Ratings Service

An exclusive partnership with Nielsen, buttressed by its recent acquisition of social TV data firm BlueFin means Twitter itself will provide data that analyzes tweets and provides ratings for the social impact of television shows. That’s a crafty bit of fox watching the hen house.

2. Twitter as Storefront

Both directly, via its partnership with American Express to enable purchases within tweets, and indirectly via Chirpify’s far more elegant solution (that also includes Facebook), Twitter is aiming at your wallet. Hopefully, this will be more successful than Facebook’s own f-commerce and Credits initiatives, which fizzled (although Facebook Offers show signs of life).

3. Twitter as Curator and Editor

This one has potentially the biggest impact, and the most likelihood to create ire and angst. Taking a page directly out of Facebook’s EdgeRank instruction manual, Twitter will designate tweets as “low” “medium” and “high” value, labels that will impact their exposure across the platform. And in a less than shocking twist, rumors abound that Twitter will enable advertisers to purchase “high” categorization.

Of course, not everyone who follows you on Twitter sees all your tweets, and they never have. But historically, that’s because Twitter users sip from the waterfall of information rather than scroll down forever to make sure they didn’t miss your treasured bon mot. Not all of your followers see each tweet because not all of your followers are on Twitter when you tweet (this has given rise to tools like Buffer (#investor) that help you optimize when to tweet).

But now, Twitter is taking the yoke and ensuring that not all of your followers will see your tweets ALGORITHMICALLY. This is going to dramatically increase costs for brands using Twitter as a major part of their social marketing program, as paying Twitter to increase distribution will join paying Facebook to increase distribution as teeth-gritting must-dos.

4. Twitter as Conversation Forum

But what if we stopped thinking about Twitter as a broadcasting tool? Twitter chats and interviews have become routine, but the platform’s limitations make it a decidedly less than optimal venue for this type of group communication. The unthreaded nature of Twitter conversation dictates that reading the summary of Twitter chats is often more illuminating that participating in them. A startup wants to change that, however, and enable Twitter to fulfill its promise as a real-time discussion forum.

Nestivity (in closed beta, but launching soon) turns your Twitter profile into a “nest” where you can interact and converse with people, providing far better and more nuanced personal connections. This has manifest opportunities for Twitter-fueled customer service, and could find Twitter being using in many of the same ways we’ve embraced Facebook, Linkedin and G+ groups. Nestivity’s mission is big, and meaningful. As they write on their blog:

A Twitter community is just like your workplace or your neighborhood: it’s made of real people. If everyone approached their community with the attitude that each and every connection is a genuine, unique, complex and real person, we could build Twitter into a place of trust, respect and deep, meaningful relationships.

Nestivity_Twitter_Conversation-2As you can see from this mock-up of my future Nestivity “nest” supplied by the company (my nest will be live in a few days), I can ask questions of my Twitter community and interact with them in a familiar, linear, logical and archivable fashion. I can’t wait for this technology to take hold, and I can envision it fundamentally changing how we think about the use of Twitter.

There are sure to be more than just these 4 changes on the way, and Twitter is going to continue evolving. Is it for the better?

Facebook Comments


  1. says

    Thanks for sharing. I’m looking forward to seeing how your Nest works to create deeper engagement with your followers. Please feel free to reach us at our own Customer Nest (launching soon) to share your own experiences, ideas, and questions.

  2. Neil Glassman says

    Good analysis, Jay. I’m particularly intrigued by the acquisition of BlueFin Labs. Broadcast ratings have historically lacked depth. If Twitter is successful providing meaningful qualitative insights to broadcasters, it would earn the “cred” to offer data services to other sectors.

  3. says

    I signed up for Nestivity. If it catches on it could be the variable Twitter needs to weed out the marketers using it because they have to from the enthusiasts using it to communicate and share relevant content. I see 99% of it is still self serving. Everyone hopes all their followers will read their posts but they never read anyone else’s! It’s become more of a replacement for back links since FB is harder to fake.

    • Yasin Aydin says

      Completely agree with 99% of it being self serving. A lot of social marketers rarely (if ever) interact with others, whilst continuing to churn out content that preaches the importance of social!

      • says

        From what I’ve seen some companies are still great at it with the tools and teams they have in place today. Nestivity’s goal is to help. Provide a tool with a easy UX that helps to manage the inbounds so that anyone can start tweeting with vs tweeting at.

  4. says

    As soon as the Nielsen research is finished, TV programmes will be given a ratings stamp and brands will have to pay premiums to run promoted activity during programmes that yield huge ratings (e.g. X Factor)

  5. Yasin Aydin says

    Ha for a second there I thought your article said Twitter raised 800 dollars in the 2011 round of funding!

    I’m looking forward to the release of Nestivity, got that as one to watch for 2013

  6. says

    Great article! I think that Twitter will continue to morph as it continues to grow in popularity. I like the interesting ideas that you provided.

    Do these Twitter changes have an impact on Storify?

  7. says

    Hi Jay, really interesting article. I just signed up to Nestivity. I’m not sure of Twitter ranking tweets in order of importance. That looks to me like an invitation for people to game the system.

  8. says

    Ire and angst for sure! I hate others making assumptions that lead to decisions limiting my field of vision “on my behalf”. I would much rather be given access to tools that allow me to manage the flow of information as I do already with Twitter via Hootsuite. And as this becomes more pervasive, our thinking is at risk of becoming more and more confined, based on what we’re fed.

  9. Angela Booth says

    Thought-provoking article. I can’t wait to see where Twitter’s going. Nestivity sounds promising.

  10. says

    I hope #3 does not come true Jay. If Twitter goes the way of EdgeRank, it will take what is cool about the service, and kill it. Though, I would assume you would still have lists. So would this EdgeRank only apply to the main stream, or would they muck with lists too?

  11. says

    Really interesting post, Jay. #3 is a bit ‘scary’ because it feels like our freedom is being taken away but with that said, I get it. If they want to monetize the brand, that is a way to do it. Many brands – and individuals – reap rewards from using Twitter’s free platform and it makes sense that they may start charging for certain services. I guess it goes back to not making social your primary source; focusing on making your main website/blog your hub and your social presence is a subset of that :) Easier said than done, sometimes!

    Thank you again for your insight!

  12. says

    Social media in general is a little trick to deal with. At least when we are using for business purpose and Twitter is not different.
    You cover some great points on this post and I will try to follow some of them to change the way I am using Twitter!
    Thanks for the update!

  13. says

    Think #1 is interesting in many ways. Much like the need to include DVR and app viewership in overall ratings, think both real-time and shifted viewership will need to be tracked. The other side past viewership is general chatter, hanging w/ friends; are people talking about the show w/ out actually watching? What’s the sentiment? See also, political tweets not being reliable polling data.

    I miss so many good chats, be nice to see if there’s a platform that does a good job of curating, aggregating those discussions. Gonna have to check out Nestivity, see how it organizes discussions, conversations. Like others, I’m less wild about #3 – more gaming and ads taking away from the experience; cost of doing business. FWIW.

  14. bethmwood says

    With so many tv commercials including a hashtag and/or twitter handle now, #1 makes sense to me – wondering if they will take info based on time frames (tweets during broadcast vs. other times/days), although anyone talking about the show, whether they’ve seen it or not is a good thing.
    #2 makes sense – giving twitter a bit of amazon-feel.
    #3 I’m a bit concerned about… who decides low vs. medium? And if high can be purchased, chances are we’ll be missing out on a lot of good info. As it stands now, twitter is so populated with tweets on a daily basis that it’s difficult to glean relevant information in a short amount of time, so I can understand the need to categorize, but not sure this is ideal way to do it.
    #4 feels like LinkedIn to me, which I still believe is underrated.
    Thanks for sharing the knowledge Jay!

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