October 18, 2013
Twitter keeps constantly evolving, and this week has been no exception. Perhaps fueled by the upcoming initial public offering on 15th November, the platform has introduced a couple of important, albeit subtle, tweaks to its functionality.
1. Scheduled tweets
Finally, we can schedule our tweets. Well, almost all of us. That is, those of us who pay Twitter for using its Ad Products. You can now schedule both promoted and organic tweets. To be honest, it is rather bizarre that Twitter users need to rely on 3rd party tools for such a simple functionality, but oh well.
In Twitter’s own words:
Here you can compose a Tweet and add a photo, location, or card as you like. Tweets can be delivered organically to followers, or set up to publish as part of a Promoted Tweet campaign where you can select specific targeting criteria to make sure the right users see your message.
2. Direct message anyone
No longer do the recipients of your Direct Messages necessarily need to follow you to get your message. As long as you follow them, they will receive it. Well, this at least is the idea behind the introduction of the new feature. In theory, any user is opted out of this feature by default, but can opt in should they be up for the challenge of receiving random messages. However, the new feature may be rolled out gradually as my attempt to send a test message to someone who doesn’t follow me had no success. Neither do I see the opt-in message option in my settings page.
Nevertheless, the implications of this change can be quite substantial, especially for marketers. The change means that one can reach an individual’s email inbox just by a one click, as the direct messages are by default also delivered to one’s inbox. And this is linked (no pun intended) to the next important change Twitter has introduced this week…
3. No links in direct messages
The third subtle, yet important, change we’ve seen on Twitter this week, is the restriction on the ability to share a link via a Direct Message. Some people call it an attempt to restrict spam and malware so increasingly prevalent on the platform, whilst others call it a mere temporary technical glitch. Twitter itself states:
We’re restructuring back-end elements of our direct message system. As a result, users may be unable to send some URLs in direct messages. We apologize for the inconvenience.
When I tried to include a link to a test direct message, some domains worked whilst others didn’t. Among the domains that worked successfully were google.com, facebook.com and twitter.com. Sadly, a LinkedIn URL didn’t qualify…
Obviously, this change must be connected to the introduction of unrestricted DMs, as discussed in the point above. Spam is indeed a considerable challenge for Twitter, yet another one is its inflexibility and awkward user experience. Hopefully the upcoming IPO is forcing the platform to make the tweeters’ experience enjoyable as well as safe.