Social media is an adapt or die world, and in the past year, we’ve seen lots of changes to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and now Twitter, all of which serve to make the user experience easier, more streamlined, and even better for marketing purposes. In the past few months, Twitter has quietly unleashed a series of little improvements.
In fact, some of the updates may have been so subtle that you may have missed them. However, knowing what they are and how to take advantage of them can lead to little increases in your followers and overall bottom line. Here are six of Twitter’s newest features, along with some tips for making the most of them.
- A character increase…sort of.
Twitter notoriously limits tweets to 140 characters, a move that has forced all of us to work on our brevity. If we wanted to post an @reply or link to external media, the characters used in them would count against our 140 limit. However, that’s no longer the case! A new change in Twitter means that the characters needed for an @reply or link no longer count against your total. This means that you no longer have an excuse to include an image or a video in your tweets — a move that can increase your engagement rate substantially.
- The Connect Tab.
Social networking is all about…well, networking. While many social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn have features that help you connect with others and, more importantly, help others connect with you, Twitter had been lagging a bit behind. Since early May 2016, though, Twitter has implemented a whole Connect tab, which shows users recommendations for new accounts to follow, including those already in your address book. It can help you get better information out of your Twitter experience, and it should garner you some new followers as well.
- Retweet your own tweets.
It’s hard to believe that this is a new feature, but up until a week or so ago, you could retweet other users’ tweets, but you couldn’t retweet your own. That’s now been fixed, and while it may not seem like a big deal, it means that you can retweet anything clever, important, historical, or whatever from your account. The infinitely popular #tbt and #fbf possibilities are now endless.
- Images for the visually impaired.
Making the web accessible for individuals with disabilities is an ongoing effort, and Twitter has recently stepped up to the plate with alt text descriptions for images. This allows users to add an optional description tag so that those who can’t see your picture can hear a description of it. Just like alt tags are a good idea for website images, they’re a good idea on Twitter, as it allows you to reach a wider audience by making your tweets more accessible.
- Periscope integration.
Facebook’s new Live feature has quickly become a favorite tool of marketers everywhere, so what’s Twitter doing to compete? Well, they own Periscope, a live video streaming app. Integrating Periscope with Twitter just makes sense. Soon, Twitter will roll out a Go Live button on its app, which will work with the Periscope app so users can tweet live feeds; it’s a great way to give your followers a real sense of immediacy by creating exciting live content.
- Better harassment prevention.
In an effort to make Twitter a kinder, gentler social network, they’ve beefed up their anti-harassment features. It’s now easier to block, mute, and report disruptive users who can hijack your feed and create some bad press for you. There’s also a more specific definition of what constitutes harassment, and Twitter has even set up its own Safety Council to deal with harassment-related issues. If you’ve got a user on your feed who is being disorderly, don’t let it continue — take action.
Tweet Yo Self
With all due apologies for the oddball Parks and Recreation reference, now is the time to get tweeting. This most recent round of new features all work to make Twitter an even stronger marketing tool. How will other social networks respond? The competition for users is fierce, so it’s reasonable to expect even more improvements in the future.