Haute 100 SF Update: Dick Costolo Outlines New Approach to Keep Twitter Users Engaged

Dick Costolo  Source: Twitter
Dick Costolo Source: Twitter

Twitter has recently released new figures that suggest the company may be struggling to keep its users engaged.  In its earnings report, Twitter said it had 241 million monthly active users at the end of December, up less than four percent from the quarter before. And views of its timeline—a measure of how engaged users are with the service—decreased for the first time, by nearly seven percent.

In response, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo has created solutions to make the service more inviting. He has outlined a four-pronged approach that involves “bringing the content of Twitter forward and pushing the scaffolding or the language of Twitter to the background.”

First, Twitter needs to improve its “onboarding” for new users in ways that bring them up to speed faster. This isn’t a new priority; Costolo was already talking about it at the time of the IPO.

Second, he said, photos, videos and other rich media elements need to be a bigger part of the user experience. Again, Twitter took a big step in this direction in the fourth quarter, adding big photos and Vine videos directly to Timeline, rather than requiring a click to view them.

Third, Twitter needs to find more ways to encourage conversations among users, whether publicly in their timelines or privately in the form of direct messages. Costolo cited the August 2013 introduction of threaded conversations as a measure that helps new users get involved in crosstalk by making it easier to follow what others are saying to each other.

Finally,he repeatedly mentioned the need to improve topic-based discovery. Giving users an easier way to follow topics rather than people, lists or hashtags will connect them more efficiently to the content they’re interested in, promoting higher engagement.

He pointed to recent changes that he said have led to increased usage in areas like retweets, direct messaging and search. They include making more photos appear and making direct messaging a more prominent tool within the Twitter mobile app.The changes are designed to help users get more value from their Twitter timeline, Costolo said. That might address the problem of people signing up for Twitter but not using it much because they don’t get enough out of it. Costolo also seemed open to launching separate apps that offer distinct functions to complement Twitter’s core service. 

[Sources: forbes.com; pcworld.com]


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