Twitter continues to evolve communities and other themed engagement options in the app
We need to talk about Twitter communities.
Or more specifically, it’s worth discussing how Twitter is improving user engagement through communities for more closed tweet discussions and other experiences that could potentially change the way you tweet.
Communities are the most obvious element on this front, as they are already live and growing as an option to improve tweet engagement.
Indeed, although Twitter has not yet shared official statistics on the use of communities, it has stated that its largest communities (in terms of number of members) have all been created in the last few weeks. So while it may not yet seem like a major fixture in the Twittersphere, it is growing whether you realize it or not.
And Twitter solves key problems with the option. At launch, one of the flaws I identified was limiting people’s ability to join communities, with only people invited by current members being able to join a group. Twitter has solved this problem with a new option to membership requestwhile it has also improved its controls over open and invite-only groups.
There are still some issues with this (the ability for members to invite five people will likely dilute the quality of the group), but the system is improving, which will facilitate more control over membership.
Twitter also added a new member search option to help admins localize mods primarily, while facilitating other use cases, while it’s also testing Finding Communities on the Web to make it easier for users to find groups to join.
Improving discoverability is a key goal, and while I’m not entirely convinced that Twitter’s algorithms will be able to highlight the most relevant communities for each user, the ability to search for yourself, in all applications, will help.
But there are still bigger questions about engagement, and whether Twitter users will care enough about sharing in more closed, topic-focused groups, as opposed to posting to their own followers.
A problem with this is that most Twitter users have already curated their audience over time, choosing who they follow and tweeting about certain topics to build an audience. Given that they have already cultivated a group of people who are interested in the same things, do we really need communities? Is it really worth tweeting in these small groups?
The main use case for communities is to give users more options to share on different topics, instead of feeling confined to certain topics to appease their only audience.
As explained by Jay Sullivan, Vice President of Consumer Products at Twitter (at The Verge):
“One of the things I hear from people is, ‘Hey, I read a lot of stuff. I’m not necessarily comfortable tweeting or I don’t know when or why I should tweet. I would feel better if I tweeted to a smaller community of people.”
It makes sense – for example, I really like NBA basketball and follow all the latest news and conversations, but I don’t feel too comfortable tweeting about the NBA on my main account, because the majority of my subscribers will not be interested. , because they follow me because of my work on Social Media Today.
Communities offers some level of solution on this front, although there is another Twitter project, which has apparently quieted down lately, which may offer more potential in this regard.
This project, originally called “Twitter Facets”, would allow users to tweet under different personalities, while letting followers choose which personality or personalities they want to follow, so they don’t have to see every tweet from every user. . The complication is that this requires extra manual effort from creators, as you would need to select which “facet” each of your tweets aligns with in the creative flow, but it would give users more freedom to tweet about different things, without annoying their audience.
Communities, again, align on the same thing, and communities may well be the best solution on that front. But it’s worth noting the alternative experiments undertaken by Twitter, which may offer more solutions to this problem.
The other experiment Twitter continues to work on is “Circles” (or “Flocks”), which would allow users to create personal groups of up to 150 people, with whom they could then share private updates.
As the reverse engineering expert recently noted Jane Manchun WongThe core code for Twitter’s Developing Circles option includes the ability to create multiple circles, which could eventually allow users to create their own topic groups, with which to share topic updates.
Of course, these would be smaller groups, so it seems like a less optimal solution than Facets, which would potentially allow you to build a large audience around different topics. But that’s another consideration, and again, it’s interesting to see how Twitter is experimenting with different elements to allow for more topic- and community-focused sharing, instead of tweeting everything to your entire audience every time.
That’s a valuable proposition for the app, but whether it can really maximize tweet activity in this regard remains to be seen. But it’s working on it, and if Twitter can crack the code and establish a better way to tweet about variable topics, it could be a game-changer for the app and for marketers in the future.
There is still a long way to go, but it is interesting to note the progress of Twitter.