Twitter’s Revamp Worth Rooting For

I’ve always been more of a Twitter guy than a Facebook guy. I liked the pithiness of Twitter as opposed to the “let’s watch a slideshow of my vacation” attitude of Facebook. Sure, they started out as college upstarts, but Facebook has quickly spiraled into an odd mixtures of family reunions, random observations and way too much Farmville.

Plus Twitter has always been a bit of an underdog in this whole fight for social media supremacy, clinging to their goofiness and a reputation of being all things shallow, despite what they have added to the mix in terms of instant journalism.

That being said, I was really excited by Twitter’s announcement last night about the direction the company, and where its stream of information is going.

Twitter’s Big Night and its accompanying video showed off new features that will keep people swimming in that stream of information by bringing added content to them instead of launching them off in the direction of other sites.

The change comes with how Twitter will work. Because of partnerships with video and photos sites like Twitpic, yfrog, YouTube, TwitVid and Flickr, users will be able to click on a link to a photo or video in the steam and see it inside the right hand column on Total integration of multimedia will now be the standard on Twitter. Twitter is also tweaking many other pieces of how its architecture will work, making it a much more comfortable place to hang out.

Now that users will be able to view videos, check photos and see more in-depth profiles without having to leave their home page, the site will become one in which users spend more time, which means more eyeballs, which means more of a possibility for ads.

Mashable’s Ben Parr gets to the core of the impact:

“By adding multimedia to the stream, Twitter evolves from a source of information and links to a destination website where users can simply kill time by watching all of the YouTube videos their friends are sharing. While there may not be photo albums on Twitter anytime soon, we could imagine friends checking their Twitter accounts every day (or every hour) to see what photos their friends are tweeting.”

Ads in the right hand column have long been a possibility for Twitter and now seem all the more likely. Users will be used to seeing ads in the YouTube videos they click on and now view on, so why shouldn’t Twitter get similar revenue coming in to its site? Social networking users are also comfortable with right hand ads, since that’s how Facebook has cashed in for all these years.

Richard McManus of ReadWriteWeb boiled it down like this. Twitter wants to become a site like YouTube, in which users consume information and content,including ads, and visit the site often. Some of the users, but not all, will be producing that content. Everyone wins. Richard continued:

“YouTube is perhaps a good example of what Twitter is aiming to become. The appeal of YouTube when it launched in 2005 was that people could upload their own videos to the Web. But nowadays most of its users just consume videos and aren’t uploading them. Likewise, Twitter wants to be a place on the Web where people can consume the “tweets” of the small percentage of users who like to produce content. YouTube has translated this into a very successful web service, which far eclipses what Twitter has so far achieved.”

So does that still make Twitter the underdog that we all, including myself, should be rooting for? I think even more so. Twitter has placed itself in the position of becoming the always on, user-driven news and information network that the traditional media has been searching for for so long. While Facebook is working on being the Web’s living room, it looks like Twitter can be the Web’s news room.

About Mike Koehler

Mike Koehler is the New Media Director for Schnake Turnbo Frank | PR, the largest and oldest public relations firm in Oklahoma. Mike consults with clients about the best use of tools on the Internet, Web strategy and social media policy. Mike blogs regularly at and is working on his first book to be published in 2010. Mike lives in Oklahoma City with his wife and three kids.

You can find Mike on Twitter: @mkokc.

2 Responses to Twitter’s Revamp Worth Rooting For

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