After recent criticism of Twitter’s plans to start showing tweets in people’s timelines from accounts that they don’t follow, the social network has stressed that it will “always be a real-time network”.
Twitter told users in October that it was testing ways to show “tweets we think you’d enjoy” in their timelines, but its chief financial officer, Anthony Noto, has now tried to reassure users that the company’s priorities aren’t skewed.
“Twitter will always be a real-time network. That is our number one priority when we think about the user experience,” said Noto during Twitter’s earnings call after the company reported its financial results for the third quarter of 2014.
But Noto added that Twitter is continuing to experiment, including re-showing tweets that people might have missed first time round, even if they follow the accounts that posted them.
“There are time periods when something incredibly relevant to you as a user could have occurred hours ago before you open up the Twitter app,” said Noto. “We will see unique opportunities like that to give you content that’s incredibly relevant even if it’s not based on what happened most recently.”
Twitter has already been changing its signup process for new users, simplifying it “from 12 steps to approximately six or seven”, while building an initial timeline for them rather than expecting them to know exactly who to follow.
Chief executive Dick Costolo said the new system “automatically creates a timeline based on what topics users choose as well as our browsing history”, with the aim of reducing the number of people who register for Twitter, then drop out quickly.
“We get them into a fully populated timeline that does not require them to immediately know the language of Twitter or who is on Twitter,” Costolo told analysts. “Expect to see this on mobile in short order.”
Twitter is also working on making its service more useful even for people who aren’t logged in when visiting its site. Costolo said that there are “hundreds of millions” of people who visit Twitter without logging in – “another one to two times the size of the core” users for the social network.
“We’re scratching the surface on giving these individuals unique content that meets their specific need on that specific use case for which they come,” added Noto.
During the earnings call, Costolo said he’s keeping an open mind about extending Twitter’s advertising units to external apps, like the company’s own TweetDeck or third-party apps like Flipboard.
However, he said advertising isn’t heading to Twitter’s video-sharing service Vine in the near future. “Our near term and immediate term focus in Vine are continuing to build beautiful content creation tools for all of the users of that service,” said Costolo.
Earlier, Twitter had reported that its revenues had grown 114% year-on-year to $361m in the third quarter of 2014, when it averaged 284m monthly active users (MAUs).
However, the company’s share price fell 10% in the hours after the financials announcement, with investors concerned about the fact that while MAUs were up 23% year-on-year, they rose less than 5% quarter-on-quarter.
This article was written by Stuart Dredge, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 28th October 2014 09.15 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010