Fresh off its blockbuster IPO, Twitter is making moves that could make the microblogging service more useful for marketing pros. Twitter's new feature for customizing timelines provides more control over how tweets are organized and delivered on the Twitter platform.
Twitter’s Brian Ellin described custom timelines as “entirely new types of timelines” -- ones you create. Specifically, you name the timeline, you choose the tweets you want to add to it either manually and or using code. The bottom line: when the conversation around an event or topic takes off on Twitter, you can leverage that opportunity by creating a timeline that surfaces what you believe to be the most noteworthy, relevant tweets.
“Each timeline is public and has its own page on Twitter.com, making it easy to share so others can follow along in real time as you add more tweets,” Ellin said. “And since custom timelines are part of our Twitter for Web sites toolkit, you can embed these timelines on your Web site.”
Custom Timelines in Action
Ellin mentioned the overarching goal with custom timelines, but how does that pan out for business marketers, practically speaking? Consider the opportunity: You can share your best tweets about a product, bits of advice, service or insight that relates to current events taking place in real time. That means you are likely to get more visibility for your brand.
“Whether you want to collect the best tweets about a TV show or help people find the latest information about fast-moving, real-time situations, custom timelines let you give everyone a place to follow along,” said Ellin.
Need more? Ellin offers some examples from Carson Daly and Politico. Daly, host of The Voice, created a custom timeline as a live companion to Wednesday night’s competition. Meanwhile, Politico is organizing the best tweets from policy industry experts in its new Tweet Hub. The Guardian is hosting a Q&A and will curate the lead question, questions from readers, and answers from journalists into a custom timeline. And Bleacher Report will help sports fans keep up with the best moments from the Champions Classic match-ups tonight.
A Marketing Boon?
We caught up with Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, to get his take on how custom timelines might land with business marketers. He told us marketers and brands of all types will now be able to curate and embed custom timelines.
“It certainly will be used as a marketing tool by brands, marketers and publishers. Twitter will likely also gain broader reach across the Internet as a result of publishers embedding custom timelines in their sites,” he said. “However, right now it's unclear whether Twitter will monetize the product in any way. It may be primarily designed to broaden Twitter's appeal and exposure.”
Ready to get started? You can create, add to and share a custom timeline right from TweetDeck. Ellin said these capabilities will roll out to all TweetDeck users over the next several days. Twitter is also making available a custom timelines API ( protocol interface) beta. It will allow programming custom timelines based on logic you choose, building tools that help people create their own custom timelines and other development opportunities.