Two weeks to the day after the company lost its head of core consumer product, just two seasons after he’d begun, Twitter has several new features and a new product, which it announced in a meandering and not-crazy-specific statement this morning.
The headline of that statement is the augmentation Twitter is giving video on its platform (video, specifically mobile, being the fastest-growing source of advertising revenue, after all). Twitter videos can now be 140 seconds long, up from 30.
As well (and here, the lack of specificity), Vine videos are getting a change. “… starting with a small group, creators will be able to add a video to their Vine, turning the six second Vine into a trailer for a bigger story.” (What a bigger story means in this context is anyone’s guess, really.) “This opens up monetization opportunities for creators, and soon any creator in the Amplify Open program will be able to monetize Vines, just like native Twitter videos.”
(A search of the internet for “Amplify Open” returns either stories referencing today’s news — the first mention of Amplify Open — or a blog entry from Twitter posted last October, referencing Twitter Amplify, the company’s creator advertising program. Let’s assume, because we have to, that they’re the same thing.)
The company has also rolled out “improved” video browsing, with suggested videos now being fronted when users watch full-screen video.
And finally, Twitter Engage. The project is “a new, standalone app for influential creators” which provides those users with more detailed audience metrics like engagement and individual tweet performance, as well as “curated recommendations” that will attempt to point out topics that those influencers could engage in to maximize their troncness.
Reading between the lines, the stilted introduction of these features points to a deeper problem: specificity and simplicity. “Bigger story” and “Amplify Open” and recommended topics for influencers to weigh in on — these are mercurial concepts for a company which has had a hard time retaining loyal users users (according to Statista, it added 8 million monthly active users from 2015 to 2016). Increasing monetization opportunities for creators is, of course, good news, especially for the breakaway hit Vine platform. The analytics of Twitter Engage seem like they will, at least in their description, offer clear and actionable metrics for the platform’s biggest.
Twitter’s recent $70 million investment in SoundCloud points toward a deeper integration of the world’s simplest streaming service and the word’s most cross-talky social media platform. If music discovery and recommendation is a part of that plan, let’s hope it’s kept dead simple.