Twitter's entrance into the stock market put the social media site on a lot of critics' radars. We all are familiar with how ubiquitous the site is--it seems to be on every teen's smartphone, the way every celebrity shares their news, and the main source of breaking news. But its actual audience has always been in question, as well as their engagement level. How much does Twitter contribute to the internet marketing world in terms of the demographics they serve? Under these criticisms, Twitter started rolling out new features, and very quickly. They started showing picture previews in the timeline without any behavior on the users part, they allowed higher-level targeting within their advertising platform, and now they are introducing Custom Timelines. Watch today's Daily Brown Bag to learn about Twitter's Custom Timelines, and what they hope to achieve with new feature rollouts like this one.


Hello, and welcome to the Daily Brown Bag. Today, we wanted to talk about Twitter’s recently rolled out custom timelines. I’m Chad Hill, and I’m joined by Adam Stetzer.

Yeah, good morning, Chad, and welcome to the Brown Bag. So, Twitter’s got a new feature trying to make their information more useful. They’re introducing a new timeline to help people organize what they see in Twitter, and it is a common point of feedback that Twitter is just so much information. It’s impossible to review everything that you have, so let’s dig into this, Chad, and see what’s happening today.

Some of the stats on this are very interesting. Sixteen percent of adults in the U.S. use Twitter, and I found this one particularly interesting: 44% of Americans hear about tweets through the media or websites that are not Twitter, and that’s happening almost daily. They then bounce over to Twitter to check it out, so the reach that Twitter has established for content discovery is pretty big. In other words, social media has really moved into a primary role in how people get their news, how they discover new things, how they hear from celebrities, how they hear about events and what’s going on, and overall overall content discovery. So, I want to talk about this and the new feature Twitter is rolling out today, Chad, and try to understand what our internet marketing community might find interesting here.

Yeah, it’s really interesting, and I do think that you can’t go a day without watching television where they’re trying to draw you into Twitter in some way. So, it’s definitely there, and I think as you said, Adam, there’s just a firehose of data and tweets coming out of Twitter. So, what this is all about is trying to give people another way to organize the information. So, if you look at the way it used to be done, you basically had the ability to try to follow a hashtag. I know that at conferences it’s very popular to have a hashtag so that people at an event can be talking back and forth amongst each other. The other way that people, in the past, have curated or looked for content is by creating lists. So, if I have certain people that I like to follow that tweet about international news or internet marketing, I might have two lists of the people I follow in those categories, and then I can filter down and look at just what those people are tweeting. You can also share those lists with other people. So, that was another way people filtered data.

What they’re rolling out now, custom timelines, is something new. It allows people to actually manually build a timeline of a discussion. My guess is that the problem with hashtags and lists is that you get different people who are just throwing random unuseful comments in. So, what this can do is let you distill down a conversation that happens on Twitter with the most important people who contribute to that discussion. So, Twitter's custom timelines are something that today people can roll out and use with TweetDeck and also embed these timelines in publications like blogs or other traditional websites. So, it’s something new and different. It seems a little difficult that you have to manually build these timelines. It seems sort of contrary to Twitter and what it does, but I suppose from the pulling people in, Adam, and using this to start documenting these real discussions that are happening on the web and on Twitter, Twitter's custom timelines are probably a needed feature.

I think so, and I think, again, the volume is so behind on Twitter that it’s naturally going to be looking for new ways to organize. They’re going to experiment with different approaches; some may work, some may not. It’s similar to what we’ve seen Google and, of course, Facebook do as well. They’re very large sources of data and there’s a lot of daily engagement. So, I’d be very interested to see how custom timelines are received, and we would, of course, like to hear from those who are on the leading edge and are trying these new things. If you’re out there and you’re trying the custom timeline feature, please drop us a few comments and let us know what you think. Is it better, or is it worse? That’s our daily Brown Bag for today. We’re glad you came, and we hope to see you tomorrow. Please subscribe to our YouTube channel.