Twitter Overhauls the Profile Page

One of my fellow strategists, Tim Dunn, recently talked about the converging featuresets of the dominant social networks, and today we get a very prominent example of what he discussed from Twittbook. I mean Facebitter.

Sorry, I mean Twitter. Yesterday Twitter launched an overhaul of the Twitter profile page, and it looks shockingly similar to Facebook:

 

 

  • Big cover photo? Check
  • Thumbnail profile photo? Check
  • Mini-bio? Check

 

Maybe ‘shocking’ is a bit strong. Mashable stumbled upon some early A/B testing that began to resemble Facebook, and since then, the new Twitter profile page has merged even closer to Facebook’s.

 

So what does this mean? While Twitter is beginning to resemble Facebook visually, one major distinction remains: Twitter gives users everything ever tweeted by everyone the user is following, and Facebook tries to curate that list for you via their EdgeRank algorithm.

 

Twitter’s challenge is to strike the balance between overwhelming the user with too much content, and over curating content through an algorithm that may not work for everyone. Twitter doesn’t want to determine what its followers may find valuable, but the firehouse of tweets can overwhelm users. This may lead users to unfollow people and brands (or worse, leave Twitter altogether).

 

A featured released to the new profile may solve this problem sooner than expected. The “best tweets” feature will emphasize more popular tweets by making them larger in size on the profile timeline. Today, this is limited to the new profile page updates, but if successful there, Twitter will likely roll out it out to the newsfeed where users will be able to easily scan their feed and stop and linger on these larger items deemed more popular by other followers.

 

While this new approach may solve the firehose vs. curation issue, it opens the door to a whole host of questions around paid and promoted tweets. If a promoted tweet is highly engaging, it will increase in popularity, and thus its visibility in the feed. As these larger items are likely to draw more attention, Twitter may be inadvertently highlighting more paid tweets than organic and further blurring the lines between the two.

 

For now though, we’ll see how the “best tweets” feature performs and wait to see if/when it’s rolled out to the stream.  And Twitter still hasn’t addressed how these changes will impact their largest user base – mobile users. Until then, enjoy the Facebookificaiton of the Twittersphere.

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