Twitter is not a social network; in fact, Jack Dorsey himself, the company’s CEO, has on several occasions defined it as a communication tool. Twitter’s main potential has always been the tremendous virality that news can obtain when published there.
This is precisely what Twitter has highlighted in the video celebrating its 10 years of existence: there is no mention of changes or technical improvements, just important people tweeting important events.
Thank you for these incredible 10 years!
The first people to understand this were Twitter’s creators. If you’re one of those users who has used the site from the start, you’ll remember that it used to ask “What are you doing?” The dynamic of its users means that Twitter has become a tool to experience, in real time, historic moments, or to follow all kinds of events, such as TV shows or sports. Ultimately, it allows you to take part in the conversation while events are happening.
The latest changes: GIFs, more multimedia, and chronology
One thing that has marked the evolution of this social network is its gradual progression from text only to increasingly enriched content. A while ago, users had to use external tools in order to upload images. Images and videos can now be uploaded directly to Twitter.
Recently, a GIF search tool has been included, similar to the one which Tumblr has always had.
More evidence of Twitter’s aim to become “more multimedia” is its purchases of other companies or tools. Almost four years ago it bought Vine, and in March last year it acquired Periscope, a live video streaming app.
Another recent change is something which Facebook has been doing for some time: changing how the timeline is organised, using an algorithm which analyses what it thinks would interest you. Fortunately, this feature is optional on Twitter and can be disabled in settings.
What shouldn’t change: the 140-character limit
This topic crops up from time to time. Twitter’s 140-character limit, which includes spaces, is its identifying mark. There is occasionally talk of changes which would do away with this limit. This has already been done for direct messages only which can be much longer.
What’s more, in January 2016, Dorsey mentioned that the Twitter team were working on a change which would allow additional text, but without Twitter losing its essence. Let’s see what happens.
Twitter has historically had to contend with users leaving the site who can’t get used to the character limit and the way which conversations flow. On the other hand, becoming too similar to Facebook could be a big mistake.
— Jack (@jack) 5 January 2016
What does the future hold?
With Twitter now celebrating its ten-year anniversary, it looks like it will now be difficult to grow in terms of the number of users, and it is becoming urgent for the company to start becoming profitable. In fact, the company’s results show losses each quarter, and a stagnating number of users.
Despite the simplicity of its interface, Twitter has always been slightly more complex than other social network. While you are quite likely to bump into your grandmother or ex-work colleague on Facebook, Twitter has always been slightly more exclusive.
There have not been any significant design changes, so it is logical that some new features in terms of content are in the works.
Javier de Ríos (known as javiR on MyBQ) maintains several of his own blogs on literature, including La viga en mi ojo (http://lavigaenmiojo.com/), a publication focused on culture, literarature, e-books and the internet, with a section dedicated to literary contests and resources for writers. He collaborates as a blogger and social network strategist for literature-related organisations such as publishers and writing schools. He has published one book so far, a collection of short stories.