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Twitter is testing the waters of launching a premium subscription service which would give exclusive features to paying members. 

The concept of a premium Twitter service has been rumored for weeks, until CEO Jack Dorsey told investors the gossip was true. Reportedly, the idea has become popular within the company following a recent decrease in ad revenue. 

In a letter to shareholders, the company stated:

“We are also in the early stages of exploring additional potential revenue product opportunities to compliment our advertising business. These may include subscriptions and other approaches, and although our exploration is very early and we do not expect any revenue attributable to these opportunities in 2020, you may see tests or hear us talk more about them as our work progresses.”

A report from CNN says the premium service could come as soon as later this year.

As for what the premium version of Twitter might look like, the company gave a sneak peek with a survey being sent out to some Twitter users. 

The survey specifically asks users “Which of the following features would you most/least desire?”

The premium features suggested in the email include:

  • Undo Send: A 30 seconds window for you to recall/withdraw a Tweet before anyone can see it.
  • Custom Colors: In addition to “Night Mode,” you could change the fonts and theme color of Twitter on your phone and computer. Background color, links, mentions, hashtags, and icons would appear in whatever color you choose.
  • Video Publishing: You could publish videos up to 5x longer than current default, which a much higher maximum resolution (8192×8192).
  • Badges: You get a badge(s) on your profile that links to businesses you own or work for (Example: A journalist can have a badge showing the magazines they write for.)
  • Auto responses: Able to write and set a menu of auto responses to use in replies.
  • Social listening: You can see conversation around your account on Twitter, including total volume, the people and businesses who are talking most often, and what they are saying.
  • Brand Surveys: You could be able to survey people about the ads you run to better understand if your ad was memorable and if people are likely to buy the products or services featured.

Another survey sent out explored the idea of removing some ads for a fee.

Of course, the features proposed in these surveys may never come to fruition and any paid version of Twitter could look radically different than what has been suggested. As the surveys note: 

“This is not necessarily reflective of what features Twitter will have in the future.”

Twitter is introducing a new way to tweet using just your voice – called simply Voice Tweets.

The company announced this week that voice tweets will soon be among the many different ways you can tweet, such as using photos, videos, and regular text. 

“Over the years, photos, videos, gifs, and extra characters have allowed you to add your own flair and personality to your conversations. But sometimes 280 characters aren’t enough and some conversational nuances are lost in translation.

So starting today, we’re testing a new feature that will add a more human touch to the way we use Twitter – your very own voice.”

To start, the feature is limited to a small number of people using the Twitter app on iOS devices, though it will be rolling out to all iOS devices in the coming weeks.

While those with Android devices and those on desktop computers are left out of being able to create voice tweets for now, everyone can still see and listen to voice tweets that appear in their feed.

How To Post a Voice Tweet

If you have been given access to voice tweets, you will notice a small icon resembling an audio wavelength next to the camera icon when composing a tweet. 

If you tap that icon, you will be presented with a screen showing your profile photo and a record button. Just tap that button to get started recording. 

Voice tweets are limited to 140 seconds of audio in each clip, though the company mentioned that you can keep talking and have your audio automatically split into a thread of multiple voice tweets. 

Once shared, your voice tweet will appear in other people’s feeds with a tappable image that will begin playing your audio in a docked window at the bottom of the screen. 

There’s a lot that can be left unsaid or uninterpreted using text, so we hope voice Tweeting will create a more human experience for listeners and storytellers alike.

Whether it’s #storytime about your encounter with wild geese in your neighborhood, a journalist sharing breaking news, or a first-hand account from a protest, we hope voice Tweeting gives you the ability to share your perspectives quickly and easily with your voice.”

In a post to the company’s business-focused blog, Twitter revealed this week that Tweets including videos generate 10-times the engagement compared to posts without video.  

Most importantly, the pot highlights the fact that you don’t need a Hollywood-sized budget or cutting-edge cameras and microphone to attract this level of engagement. You just need an average smartphone. 

“Your phone is a fully capable multimedia studio in your pocket, giving you everything you need to create compelling content on the go.”

To help get you started, the company also provided a few ideas to spark your creative side. 

GIF It Up

Using existing GIFs you’ve found around the internet can be a tempting way to connect with your audience and show your pop-culture savviness. Instead, however, Twitter recommends creating your own, original GIFs.

Creating GIFs is also easier to do than most people realize. There are countless apps available for Android devices to help you create GIFs, but iOS users have it even easier. The iPhone’s Photos app includes a built-in GIF mode which can convert any video into a GIF. 

If you need more motivation to start using GIFs more often, Twitter also says tweets with GIFs generate up to 55% more engagement than those without. 

Record Your Screen

Another feature included in most phones is the ability to record your own screen and turn it into content. 

This is especially useful for more technical how-to’s or guides, though you can also find ways to show off your online shopping process, highlight your products, or easily turn a photo slideshow into a video. 

Use Stop Motion

via GIPHY

On the note of image-based slideshows, another type of video content you can easily create with your phone is a short stop motion video. 

If you aren’t familiar with the term, stop motion is the very foundation for all animation. The process simply includes taking a series of photos and playing them quickly enough to show action or movement. 

On your phone, the process is typically as easy as taking a photo, moving your position or the object you are photographing slightly, and taking another photo. Then, repeat. .

You can use these ideas to get started making stop motion videos to share:

  • Move the camera around the object
  • Keep the camera on a tripod and move the object instead
  • Add details to the object like drawings or text
  • Take the object apart to show how the parts fit together

For more tips on creating videos, check out Twitter’s best practices for videos.

One of the biggest issues keeping many brands from promoting themselves more heavily on Twitter is the platform’s rampant trolling and abuse problems. Over the last few years, Twitter has become infamous for the rude, inappropriate, or even vulgar behavior of its users despite several attempts to address the issue.

Now, Twitter is giving users another tool to reduce the impact of trolls and other troublemakers by allowing users to hide replies to their tweets from the public.

While the feature has been rumored for months, representatives from the company have confirmed it will be rolling out the feature as a test starting in June.

As the company says in a blog post from this week:

“Starting in June, we’ll be experimenting with ways to give people more control over their conversations by giving them an option to hide replies to their Tweets.”

The tool allows you to actively moderate responses to your Tweets by individually hiding offensive or problematic responses. Users can then choose to reveal the Tweet if by selecting to show hidden replies.

Jane Manchun Wong previewed the feature, including screenshots of how it will work:

The feature doesn’t allow you to fully delete inappropriate comments like Facebook or Instagram, nor does it allow you to entirely turn off responses to your Tweets. Still, it gives brands and users more control over the toxicity in their feeds and provides healthier discussions for everyone involved.

When Twitter announced it was doubling the length limit for tweets from 140 to 280 characters, there was a lot of speculation about how it would affect the platform. Now, a year later, we finally have hard data about the effects of the new character limit, and some of the findings are surprising.

Tweets Are Not Getting Longer

Despite the extra space to say your piece, the majority of Twitter users haven’t actually taken advantage of the extra length. In fact, the average length of English language tweets has actually decreased by one character to 33 characters per tweet.

Additionally, Twitter says only 12% of English tweets are longer than the previous 140 character limit, and just 1% hit the newer 280 character limit.

Twitter Users Are Becoming More Polite

Twitter may have a reputation for rude and hateful users, but the increased tweet length may actually be subtly making the platform a nicer place to be. Twitter’s statistics indicate that users have begun using more polite phrases since the change.

Specifically, the company’s data shows that 54% more tweets include the word “please” and 22% more tweets use “thank you” since the change.

Fewer abbreviations

Another interesting shift is that the increased character limit has led to users fully writing out words instead of using abbreviations. Usage of “gr8” has dropped 36%, while “great” is up 32%. Similarly, usage of “b4” is down 13% while “before” has risen 70%.

What this means for you

The biggest takeaway is that the new character limit hasn’t drastically altered Twitter. Short thoughts are still the norm, while longer tweets are still regularly broken up into “tweetstorms” to help segment them for easier reading or dramatic flair.

What has changed is the actual content of the discussions. Writing has become more natural and user engagement is rising. These are all positive results for the social platform who has struggled in recent years to retain its identity and bring more depth to the conversations on its platform.

Yesterday Twitter revealed that it has lost approximately 9 million monthly users in its latest quarterly report.

In most cases, such a drop would be considered a huge red flag. However, the company was not only anticipating the decrease in users but sees it as a sign that the platform is improving.

Since its earliest days, Twitter has been notorious for spam and bot accounts. The huge number of inactive, fake, or malicious accounts has been so bad that Twitter users have even created nicknames for these types of accounts. The most popular sobriquet is simply calling these accounts “eggs” for the original default profile picture on Twitter.

Notably, the company removed the egg profile picture in an attempt to shake off the nickname, though the term still lingers to describe accounts that are inactive, suspicious, or spammy.

Earlier this year, Twitter launched a new initiative aimed at removing these types of bad accounts and preventing the creation of new accounts for spammy or suspicious accounts.

Based on the news that Twitter’s active monthly account number has fallen from 335 million to 326 million in the third quarter of this year, it appears the company is making significant headway in reducing the number of low-quality accounts.

As part of the initiative, Twitter says it expects to continue seeing decreases in monthly active users through the next quarter. CEO Jack Dorsey describes the move as a positive act to improve the long-term health of Twitter.

Dorsey’s perspective may not be far off, as the company has seen consistent gains in daily users and revenue. The company reported a 9% increase in daily active users year over year. Revenue is also high enough for the company to turn a profit the past quarter, marking the first full-year period the company has seen profitability.

Twitter still has significant hurdles to overcome to prevent stagnation or loss of inertia. While these types of steps are likely to increase users’ overall satisfaction with the platform, there are still widespread issues of abuse, spam, and manipulation of the like and retweet functions on the site. If Twitter really hopes to continue to grow in sustainable ways, it will eventually have to confront these complicated issues and make some hard decisions about the direction it wants to grow.

Twitter is trying to bring back the good old days when you could explore your feed chronologically.

The social platform announced it has changed how the option to “Show the best Tweets first” function, removing the “In case you missed it” and recommended Tweets from people users aren’t following.

By stripping all this away, it leaves users with a pure, reverse-chronological feed from people they are following.

“We’ve learned that when showing the best Tweets first, people find Twitter more relevant and useful. However, we’ve heard feedback from people who at times prefer to see the most recent Tweets,” reads the company’s statement. “Our goal with the timeline is to balance showing you the most recent Tweets with the best Tweets you’re likely to care about, but we don’t always get this balance right.”

Since the release of the default algorithmic feed in early 2016, many users have been relying on workarounds to access their feed in a chronological way. Unfortunately for those users, Twitter has recently been limiting the amount of access available to third-party developers, restricting the possibility for plug-ins or automated tools for accessing a chronological timeline.

That led to the past few days when things reached something of a boiling point. A trick to get the algorithmic feed from user Emma Kinema went viral with more than 15,000 retweets and almost 40,000 likes.

While Twitter says it has been working on this update for some time, the tweet helped underscore the demand for a simple way to access a chronological feed without all the “curated” content that Twitter had been including.

The change to how the “Show best Tweets first” option works is a temporary solution according to the company, which maintains that many users still prefer the algorithmic feed. In the meantime, it is working on a more accessible way to easily switch back and forth between “Tweets that are most relevant for you and a timeline of the latest Tweets.”

The company says it will launch within a few weeks.

Twitter is following Facebook and Instagram’s lead by prioritizing live streams in users’ feeds. The social network announced it would begin bumping live streams to the top of users’ timelines while the streams are active.

This means anytime someone you are following begins streaming, you will be able to see it automatically at the top of your feed.

As Twitter said in the announcement:

“We’re making it easier to find and watch live broadcasts. Now, when accounts you follow go live, the stream will appear right at the top of your timeline.

Catch breaking news, your favorite personalities, and can’t-miss sports moments. Rolling out now on iOS and Android.”

The decision to prioritize live streams in people’s feeds isn’t exactly shocking. While streams can be rewatched after the original event is over, being able to interact with streamers during the video is a big driver of engagement for streams. Once the initial stream is over, engagement with the post typically dwindles significantly.

This is why Facebook and Instagram have similarly prioritized live streams on their platforms by sending notifications to users and highlighting active streams in the primary feed.

Although Twitter has yet to clarify, it seems likely the boost applies to both video live streams and the new audio-only streams rolled out for users last week.

Twitter has shut down numerous accounts accused of artificially increasing the popularity of their posts using a method called “tweetdecking.”

Tweetdecking gets its name from the app TweetDeck, which can schedule posts ahead of time. Conspiring accounts were working together to retweet content in order to force it to go viral.

In this case, most of the accounts removed were using the technique to steal content (including memes and jokes) to make accounts more prominent. These accounts would then use their artificial popularity to promote other accounts or products for financial profit.

This practice blatantly violates Twitter’s spam policy. It is also just the latest instance of users and brands gaming the system to increase their online presence.

Since the earliest days of Google, brands and “black hat” users worked together to rig the search engine to ensure high visibility. Usually, this took the form of buying links to artificially appear authoritative to Google’s algorithm. The search engine has since worked to eradicate the practice, but similar tricks like buying “likes” or “retweets” have since sprung up on almost every other popular social platform.

Twitter’s latest bans are the most recent crackdown in a long-running game of whack-a-mole. Still, it provides a harsh reminder that brands who try to manipulate social networks or search engines in bad faith are nearly guaranteed to be eventually penalized or banned entirely.

It is official. After over a year experimenting with various types of longer tweets, Twitter is finally letting everyone tweet with 280-characters at a time.

The double-sized tweets are rolling out as the default length limit for users around the world, except Japan and Korea. The iconic 140-character limit will be phased out, although Twitter suggests the change won’t affect most tweets.

According to the blog post announcing the change, most tweets stayed below the old limit even when they had the opportunity to say more. However, “we saw when people needed to use more than 140 characters, they tweeted more easily and more often.”

Twitter also noted that “historically, 9% of tweets in English hit the character limit.” With the new extended length, that number has dropped to only 1% of tweets.

Of course, some on the platform seem to be outraged by the break in tradition. Most, including celebrities, are celebrating the longer tweets with jokes and pointlessly long tweets for fun.