With New Updates, Twitter Toes a Line

September 20, 2012

twitter, advertising, facebook, headers, cards

If you want evidence of Twitter’s evolution from a fledgling startup to a company that priortizes generating revenue, look no further than some of its recent announcements. With an upcoming IPO rumored to be in the neighborhood of $8 billion dollars, Twitter needs to show that it can make money and lots of it.  It’s funny; two years ago, the big question was how was Twitter going to make money.  With the introduction of Twitter 'Headers' this week and 'Cards' in August, that question may change from how to how much?

In an article from TechCrunch, Roman Diller explains that the goal of Twitter's advertising strategy is to create an opportunity for marketers that balances with enhancing the user experience.

Twitter believes it has done that with the introduction of ‘Headers,' which allows a user to customize their Twitter profile with a Facebook cover photo-like picture that headlines a user’s timeline.  

The profile changes are “a richer way to showcase your brand and engage consumers.”  This allows businesses and brands to promote themselves in a much bolder, more interactive manner.

According to Diller, Twitter has made a clear choice.

It wants to be a $100 billion dollar company, not a billion dollar company. It is carefully focused on improving its long-term situation, shaping the product now so that it will remain very effective when it scales.”

In addition to 'Headers,' the launch of Twitter ‘Cards’ also demonstrates Twitter’s desire to become more engaging and make more money; a tricky feat to accomplish notes Mike Issac from All Things D.

While 'Headers' focus on a brand’s Twitter page, ‘Cards’ focus more on the Tweets themselves by allowing third-party developers to create richer, compelling and ‘visually consistent’ content inside Twitter. 'Cards' allow for users to see more of the content in a specific Tweet by showcasing a summary underneath the Tweet itself.  It provides the user with more info about the Tweet, creates a more visually appealing aesthetic and also gives more room for advertisers and brands to market.

Why roll out Twitter 'Cards' you may ask?  Issac explains in a simple, yet succint manner:
Give advertisers the chance to stick more bells and whistles into their ad, and it’s an easier sell.”

Conversely, Ben Parr from CNET appears to be less than thrilled with what he (and many others) are deeming the Facebookification of Twitter.  Parr wonders why Twitter is trying so hard to be like a company (Facebook) that has recently taken a total beating in the media due to its lackluster stock opening.  

All of this results in a Twitter that looks and feels more like Facebook. Twitter.com now has a greater emphasis on photos and other media elements, and it is trying to make the experience of using Twitter consistent across-the-board.”

It may all come down to making money.  As Twitter continues to evolve, they will have to continue to toe the line of ‘cool social network’ versus ‘sellout social media.’  Facebook has learned that line is pretty darn tough to toe.  Will Twitter learn the same lesson?