Did Twitter just pull a Facebook? Don’t get me wrong, I love Twitter, but these two have been at each other since early this year like crazy! They have become the new Apple & Samsung, although Samsung always imitates Apple, but that’s a different story.
In summary, Twitter, a few days ago, rolled out a new feature, for its website, iOS, & Android users, that allows photos and videos to preview and show up as expanded images directly in a tweet, instead of requiring users to click on a link. Some fans of the move welcomed the new feature, but others seemed taken aback by all of the multimedia filling their streams, and by the Facebook-style feel it gives to Twitter.
The feature, that adds images and video previews to a user’s timeline automatically, is a move that is clearly designed to appeal to advertisers — but is debatable enough to have one think that it will wind up irritating more users than it attracts?!
While the company said in a blog post that it made the changes so that users could enjoy their friends’ photos and videos more easily, it seems fairly obvious that the move is also being driven by a desire to boost Twitter’s advertising revenue ahead of its IPO.
Through this feature, Twitter allows users of its iOS and Android apps to turn off image previews, and also to restrict potentially offensive or adult images, and the Tweetdeck desktop app has a number of controls for blocking or downsizing previews, but there is no such setting for the web version — and most users accept default settings in any case, as Twitter probably is sure of by now.
The new feature unsurprisingly only applies to photos that are hosted by Twitter and to Vine videos.
In addition to appealing to advertisers, who now get to insert what amount to banner ads into their streams (and into the streams of users as well, via promoted tweets) the feature is likely aimed at attracting new users and encouraging them to use Twitter — something the tech industry calls “on-boarding.” And some, including former Twitter director of platform Ryan Sarver, pointed out that anyone who is irritated can always block people who over-use the feature.
Despite all of that advice, however, it’s obvious what is happening to Twitter, as it prepares to go public in a couple of weeks and tries to come up with reasons to justify its estimated $15-billion market value: like Facebook, it is focusing on advertising, and in order to do that it has to push more and more content into the stream, and boost engagement levels as high as possible.
But will this new feature, in addition to many others expected to arrive soon, sell with users or will it be hit by the MySpace effect?