Twitter in its early life as a public company has drawn doubts and questions about how it plans to grow revenue. On Wednesday, the company explained how it plans to get more active users onto the platform in order to deliver a bigger audience to advertisers.
Central to its strategy is a new feature called Instant Timeline, which attempts to streamline the process of finding people to follow. It’s a problem that has existed since the microblogging service's early days. While Twitter suggests a few accounts to follow when users initially sign up, they’re often left manually searching for others. Many of those users never make it beyond that point and leave their accounts stagnant.
To remedy this, Instant Timeline shows users an interest selection page, providing categories to choose from to decide what content is added to their timeline. Users are then asked to upload contact information, which, combined with categories, is used to populate their Twitter feed. Users can further refine the suggested Twitter accounts or leave it as is.
Twitter also plans to include more video content, borrowing a page out of Facebook’s playbook with the introduction of native videos which can be recorded and shared directly through the Twitter app. The company expects to introduce the service sometime during the first half of 2015.
With different tweets and media content flooding Twitter, the company is also looking to clean up the noise. A new feature called Timeline Highlights displays relevant tweets even while the app is closed. “It’s a summarized, distilled view that may help new users deal with the overwhelming content of their timeline,” said product management VP Christian Oestlien. Another new feature will let users privately share a Tweet in a similar fashion to a direct message.
CEO Dick Costolo hopes it will all be enough to help Twitter build the largest daily audience in the world. Though for the moment, that’s merely an aspirational goal. The company boasts 284 million monthly active logged-in users. Yet it faces the problem of convincing the larger base of over 500 million casual users to register for Twitter’s service and use it on an active basis.
“We believe that anyone should be able to come to Twitter and immediately feel immersed in that world,” Costolo said Wednesday at the company's first analyst meeting.
Though Twitter is used for sharing more than just statements of 140 characters, the company squashed rumors that it was looking into starting its own music service. Twitter is not an entertainment business and will not build or buy a music subscription service, chief financial officer Anthony Noto said.
The company hopes the streamlining of the sign up process as well as its new features will be the necessary moves to drive user growth, which has been slowing in recent quarters. Twitter stock surged during its analyst day event, climbing over 7 percent to $42.55 from its opening of $39.94 on Wednesday.