Championing Twitter's New Look
Often hailed as 'the Silicon Valley of Europe,' London is a hotbed of activity for tech start-ups. But between investments, strategically hiring staff and sleepless nights before a concept board, every burgeoning brand can reap key benefits from a well-developed social media strategy.
Whilst there's hundreds of ways you can approach and develop a killer content plan, social media profiles each have certain quirks you can learn to use to your advantage. When it comes to Twitter, getting a handle on the new profile format is a great way to establish and enforce your brand's identity.
Twitter has changed. No longer set apart by its egalitarian, top-down simplicity, we now find ourselves tweeting from a page that looks a lot like the Facebook timeline. "You're just copying Facebook!" the chorus of complaints cry. "Twitter, you've traded what makes you unique just to make people like you more!"
But before you join the fray and accuse the platform of selling out, consider the distinct benefits the new platform reaps for businesses.
Twitter has not scrapped any of its cornerstone features: you still have only 140 characters or less to express yourself, you can still use the hashtag, and you can still connect with people in the same way and upload images and videos in the same way you could before. Only now, all your content and profile information is organised in ways that make it more accessible.
Fact: user engagement is the lifeblood of social media. The changes have been made with mind to making Twitter more user-friendly; to lend us a helping hand through the perpetual, directionless noise of the Twittersphere. Facebook's timeline format kicks that goal quite effectively, but as far as echoing Facebook goes, the likeness is largely cosmetic. What matters here is not the new look in itself: it's the potential it creates, and why it has come about. Yes, Twitter is different: but it hasn't changed its name and joined the foreign legion, it has swapped its button-up shirt for a more user-friendly tee.
Now you can pin your favourite tweets to the top of your profile, no matter how old they are. Your best tweets-that is, the tweets that have been the most engaged with-will appear bigger on your profile, and in one easy click beneath the new header you can see all the tweets and replies you've given in one neat list, and all the tweets you've favourited in another. This is the Twittersphere at its most transparent: you're able to cut through the digital white noise and exercise new control over how you appear, and how you can connect with others like never before. I missed the part where refusing to change for the sake of looking different achieves any of this.
This new potential has been embraced by many big brands to already make the switch, particularly when it comes to the new, Facebook-esque header. Unlike Facebook's, the new header stretches the entire length of your screen, giving brands more reign to use this prime profile real estate to strike a lasting first impression. McDonalds, Nike, Starbucks, Microsoft and Adidas are just a few so far to tap into this new power, using the space to posit high-quality, sharp visuals that instantly impact ways we'll consider what else is on the page.
For example, Nike's new profile marks a switch from a solid black background to a high-definition snap of a running track, something that would have looked far too busy by the old format. The new header creates an illusion of space-largely because now it's available-and has given Nike the opportunity to use a key, featured image to colour their brand persona before we even get to their Tweets. In the same way, a new Microsoft header nods towards the Windows 8 interface, creating a clean association to its product and cleverly making their profile seem functional and responsive, just like its user interface.
A hipster's ironically mismatched getup might create a striking first impression, too, but the difference here is that we're only momentarily interested from a purely observational point. There's no such thing as a value-free aesthetic, and it's true that being able to set yourself apart from your competition is a good thing. But Twitter's new look is not a forfeit of its individuality. The changes might feel a bit affronting at first, but they're rooted in strategy that runs much deeper to help Twitter evolve with the times.
Yes, Twitter has changed, but not for the kudos of the coffeehouse. It's changed to help you better navigate the mass of information that's tweeted every day, and create more opportunity for you to inject personality into your growing company profile. Not to mention possibilities for Twitter to boost user engagement, and later roll out more features to a wider, wholly attentive audience.
Follow Monica Karpinski on Twitter