Twitter’s new Tweet threads show how a tech giant can innovate and add value for its users

Twitter’s new Tweet threads show how a tech giant can innovate and add value for its users

Rosie Hayes

Rosie Hayes
18th April 2018

Twitter’s got new threads – and that’s not slang for a dapper new outfit.

While other social media platforms seem to be in turmoil for various reasons, Twitter seems to be getting things right. Recently, social media platform Twitter has managed to introduce two big changes that add value for its customers. The first was the character limit extension, and more recently, the second was the introduction of threads, allowing its users to expand on a train of thought by clicking the plus sign below the original Tweeted message.

Interestingly, both of these successful amendments to the service both centre on extending the ability of Twitter’s users to share information. And the key here is more information. It seems that people have much to say and much to read, and the original capabilities of the service might have been considered limiting.

Previously, Tweets were posted in a normal time sequence meaning that in order for people to read the information as a series they would have to scroll down to the original posting and read up from there. Users had tried for a long time to get around this potential confusion by numbering their Tweets in order, for example, if there were 10 posts each post would start 1/10 to signify that each post was part of a whole series.

If certain tweets followed on from a previous one, it was hard to comprehend, especially if retweets and replies filled the timeline of the poster mid-sequence. A bit of a rigmarole for the reader to discern. This might have been what has prompted the introduction of the threads, and if so, this shows an excellent level of responsiveness by the company regarding its usability: a consideration that’s really pivotal for any social media platform.

However, both of these changes by Twitter still manage to stick to the purpose of allowing for short bursts of information to be shared without becoming a full-scale blogging site; the site is still very much about micro-blogging/ideas sharing. But the threads capability allows for information to be more clearly associated with a starter-Tweet, allowing for lengthier information to be presented in a logical and systematic way.

Companies are constantly trying to innovate, but as Instagram’s recent disastrous algorithm changes show, sometimes these changes are at the expense of their users rather than for their benefit. Twitter, conversely, is making changes that are clearly informed by what its users want. Twitter is a text first, narrative platform. The threads feature has been embraced by Twitter users instantly and is being used by both individuals and businesses.

I think Twitter threads can be evocative, informative, and creative. Politico has called them ‘The compelling, incendiary literary form of the Trump era’, and that they take the form of a ‘bulleted essay.’ The threads allow for any narrative to be deliberately paced and expanded. Additionally, they allow for experts to share factual information and insights as it relates to wider related issues as writer and teacher Mike Stuchbery did here.

Tweet threads have been criticised by some as being ‘Tweetstorms’ and a ‘mainstay of mansplaining’. Some of its users have been accused of using the tool for ‘manthreading’, utilising separate Tweets to obtain recognition rather than just posting long content on a traditional blog site, and spouting off rehearsed pseudo-wisdom to bolster their own egos. In some cases, this is certainly true, but the tool itself can be used by all kinds of people for different purposes that don’t necessarily fit this critique.

The capacity for longer pieces of information to be shared and read is a very interesting opposition to the notion that text should be snappy and limited, something that seemed to have been pushed previously in all kinds of media with an emphasis on visuals. Both long and short information is valuable, so if you’d like to learn a technique for writing more concisely, click here.

Brands and individual users are already benefitting from the use of threads, so it’ll be interesting to see how creative people can get. Threads can be used for posting longer messages but also following-up with a specific issue, making them a great tool for crisis communications and minor customer concerns wherein feedback is required. They can also be used for humorous posts, storytelling, and even poetry.

You can find out more on Twitter’s business blog about how to use the threads here.

What do you think about Tweet threads? Has your business embraced the function? Send us a message on our social media accounts.