Twitter growth – enhances search, adds ‘Follow’ button and photo sharing service

June 3, 2011

There has been a flurry of activity at Twitter recently. Last month it spent $40 million on desktop app TweetDeck which represents 13% of its user base. This week things have been moving on at an even greater pace. The micro blogging service has launched its ‘Follow’ button, a new version of Twitter search and has also revealed details about its own photo sharing app which will be rolled out within the next couple of weeks. This is all a part of Twitter’s movement towards a stronger social graph with more connections and greater usability.

Here’s a more detailed look into each element of these developments:

Twitter Search

With Twitter search serving an average of 1.6 billion queries per day it was vital that they enhanced their search functionality. Twitter says its new version of search will deliver more relevant Tweets when you search for something or click on a trending topic. Not only this, it will also show you related photos and videos on the results page.

This new version is a ground-up rewrite of their whole search infrastructure with the aim of making the results as personally relevant as possible. “Our ranking function accesses the social graph and uses knowledge about the relationship between the searcher and the author of a Tweet during ranking,” the company explained. This means that Twitter’s search index will now incorporate dynamic information such as information about the searcher and how users’ interact with tweets.

In addition to this if you access Twitter using the newest version of Firefox, you can type a #hashtag or @username into the address bar to take you directly to a search results page – for example you could type #bing or someone’s profile page like @bbcapprentice.

Twitter Follow button

Twitter’s ‘Follow’ button, their equivalent of the Facebook ‘Like’ button, allows users to follow Twitter accounts directly from an external website with a single click. With a prominent tweet button already in place the launch of the ‘Follow’ button helps Twitter further grow its social reach and makes Twitter’s reach even more accessible, which can only help grow its users.

More than 50 sites including AOL, The Wall Street Journal and MTV have already added the ‘Follow’ button. The use of the button by these brands means that Twitter is gaining more reach on the social graph. You can also see the profile and latest Tweets of the account you want to follow by clicking the username next to the button.

Twitter photo and video sharing service

Having left photos and videos to third-party services like Twitpic and Yfrog, Twitter has now partnered with Photobucket to launch its own photo and video sharing service. This week Twitter CEO Dick Costolo told the D9 Conference that “A native photo sharing experience will be rolled out to 100% of users over the next couple of weeks.” This will allow Tweeters to upload a photo and attach it to their tweet directly from Twitter.

The service means that photos and videos will be directly connected to tweets. They will be viewable on Twitter without having to leave the site (unlike, say, Twitpic). Costolo also said Twitter will “surface the most popular videos and tweets” in a new section of the homepage. You’ll also soon be able to easily do all this from its official mobile apps.

Twitter’s advertising model

Add to this Costolo’s words on advertiser’s performance on Twitter and there is much to be excited about for the micro-blogging service. Costolo presented the example of an ad run by Volkswagen for the new VW Beetle. He said the promoted tweet for the campaign had an engagement rate of 52%. “These are amazing statistics that marketers just can’t believe when they first hear them…So the business is working phenomenally well.”

Twitter had been projecting to have around 100 advertisers by the end of last year. It managed to sign up with 150 and in 2011 they have 600-650 advertisers. It will be interesting to see how this grows as the platform matures although Costolo noted that “We’re in no hurry to go make sure [that we jam Twitter up with ads]. It just doesn’t make sense.”


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