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Twitter Tweaks Its Desktop API…For The Worse?


Since its inception in 2006, Twitter has constantly made changes to its desktop API and related mobile applications to better adapt to consumer trends and relevant needs. Earlier yesterday, Twitter made a drastic change to how users viewed their timelines though, and it’s not something that can be particularly ignored. For investors and marketing experts using Twitter to promote their businesses and clients’ work, this could be a very strategic and powerful move on Twitter’s part. For users so accustomed to using the old, basic text-based timeline, this could mean problems.

Before Twitter made their changes yesterday, users had to click on individual links, whether using an in-house Twitter service or related photo service (although Instagram lost its ability to integrate with Twitter sometime last year). Now photos and videos automatically appear on a user’s timeline, somewhat similar to the way Facebook has been doing things for quite some time now. It puts multimedia right in the face of users, and some people just don’t seem to like the change.

Of course, all good changes don’t come without a few troubling criticisms at first. This change could ultimately be in Twitter’s — and marketers’ — best interest. Selling ads now has a much more rewarding benefit: users see those pictures and videos without having to click on links. Robert Peck, an Internet analyst with SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, said that the adjustment to Twitter’s look addressed a concern he had heard from potential buyers of Twitter’s stock. “It was all text, for the most part. There was no multimedia,” he said. “People thought Twitter was behind.”

Everything else with Twitter’s timeline remains the same. A few tweaks to the user’s control panel (changes to the DM button) have been added as well, but users will still see normal tweets in real time. The only thing that will change, however, is the automatic preview of photos and 6-second Vine videos will start to play. If users cling to this change as something good, this could mean something big for Twitter advertisers — as well as spelling dangers for Facebook.

“Starting today, timelines on Twitter will be more visual and engaging: previews of Twitter photos and videos from Vine will be front and center in tweets,” Michael Sippey, Twitter’s vice president for product, wrote in a blog post on Tuesday. “To see more of the photo or play the video, just tap.” 

Although users are a bit more active this quarter and in 2013 than they were last year on Twitter, those same numbers are not quite as obvious as they were when Facebook was the same size. The one-billion-user platform has undergone many changes since it was Twitter’s size, but Facebook capitalized early on using multimedia to spearhead its usefulness to consumers. Where Twitter decides to go from here is entirely up to the company.


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