New Twitter Features Summed Up

Last week, Twitter announced some major changes that will affect how both users and businesses use and spend time on the site. In general, Twitter is being designed to make it easier for people to follow and discover stories, news, debates or other things they care about and over time giving better opportunities for brands to connect with consumers.

Here’s a sum up of the most prominent changes:

Twitter redesign

The new design is a much bigger change than last time, which now has more of the same feel as when using an app. The change is focused on keeping people a longer time on Twitter to follow conversations and see how they evolve.

’Home’ is still your feed as you know it, but now with better options to keep track of replies, retweets and embedded media.

In the new ‘Connect’, it is now possible to distinguish between interactions and the @mentions. This way it is easier to keep track of who is retweeting you and following up on conversations.

The biggest change is to be found in the ’Discover’ function that provides you with information customized for you depending on your interests. As you use Twitter, the feature will be better at serving you content.

Also mobile and web apps have had new interface design rolled out. According to Twitter, if you install the new version on your iPhone, iPad or Android device, you will be updated to the new version next time you log on. This seems to have worked for a lot of people, but not yet for me 🙁

You can read more about the new design at fly.twitter.com

Launches brand pages

Along with the redesign, brands will now have a better opportunity to use Twitter with ‘brand pages.’ So far there has been no difference between regular profiles and the many brands with a Twitter profile.

According to Adage, the new brand pages will of course have the redesigned feel, but it will also be possible to customize a large header image to display a logo or a tagline. Another option available to brands is to have a “sticky” tweet stay on top of the page’s timeline that will appear auto-expanded to greet viewers with whatever content is displayed. Moreover, @ replies and mentions will be separated to make it easier for brands to drive customer-service oriented conversations.

So far, the brand pages are being launched together with 21 commercial partners. It is still not clear when or whether the brand pages will be open for other brands or whether it will be possible to convert a regular profile into a branded page.

But still – looks like Twitter is stepping up the competition to Google+ and Linkedin, who has also recently created space for special brand presences – and of course Facebook who has been there for some time now.


Get Ready for the Bots – on Facebook Messenger

2Facebook Messenger was released 5 years ago and now has over 900 million users. Originally receiving a flood of negativity towards a standalone messaging app, compared to one simple Facebook app, users seem to be warming to it. The decision to make it standalone does make a lot of sense, since messaging is a big part of people’s lives nowadays and Facebook even bought the domain messenger.com to launch a version for web browsers last year. Their 900 million users will more than likely be merged with Whatsapp’s 1 billion users, which means that Facebook will have the personal phone number of every single user – sounds like $19 billion well spent.

 

Open for Business

So that’s humans covered. Where to go next? Facebook is now venturing into their next Messenger-based project: bots. If you haven’t been keeping up, Facebook launched Messenger Platform last month, which holds within it, chatterbots. Luckily, these bots are not machine learning bots, such as the disaster that was Microsoft’s Tay. They do have some humorous replies if provoked but they ultimately steer the conversation back to the subject they’re designed to cater for. Thanks to their highly advanced Send/Receive API, these bots are able to reply with actual structured messages, including links, images, hotel reservations, the weather etc. You may immediately compare this to Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, Google Now and Amazon Echo, but what sets bots on Messenger apart is the fact that businesses can develop them, which in turn gives them another way to develop customer service. Simply put, bots could end up changing the world by replacing humans in such job sectors. Without the bespoke customer service integration that Messenger bots provide, the above voice-activated services will most likely not be able to solve business-related queries themselves. Having said that, the way bots behave is very reminiscent of the way Siri does. Maybe they’ll talk to each other one day and we’ll get the best of both.

 

Customer Service and Added Value

So how can these bots work for brands? Well, eventually, every major company in the world will have an account, which will be a first port of call when contacting their company. The reason this is almost definite is due to Facebook’s already-mammoth-sized network of users. It doesn’t get any bigger than Facebook when advertising to individual people, so connecting Messenger bots (as customer sales reps, for example) is extremely attractive. Messenger codes, one of many things taken from Snapchat, will also make it easier for businesses to connect with their customers. One industry example is how bots will almost certainly change how banking works for the consumer, replacing an app or web-based system with a dialogue with a machine that is able to understand your every need. The option to send money within Messenger itself is highly likely too, like Snapchat allows. This could also eliminate the hassle of speaking to a bank’s voice recognition system when calling by telephone – no more time (and money) wasted by the dreaded “I didn’t catch that. Please try again.” These voice recognition systems are essentially bots done badly, but they’re based on voice, which is a lot more difficult to translate into zeros and ones. Plus, you cannot autocorrect your voice (yet). I can see this whole system being replaced by bots – it could even connect you to a human advisor with ease, as you’re most likely already using your phone. Even if you’re using the desktop version or Facebook Chat, I’m sure they’ll figure something out. Besides banks, what other markets will benefit from this? Restaurants, travel and possibly supermarkets with online shopping services are big industries for it to thrive. The healthcare industry could also be a large portion – Healthtap have already created their bot, which isn’t surprising considering one of the first ever chatterbots was called DOCTOR and simulated a psychotherapist. In fact, the potential amount of markets are endless for this stream of interaction – just like it is with human customer service.

 

At the end of the day, customers are moving towards messaging as their preferred choice of customer service. And as generations progress, it will no doubt become the standard – a phone call will most likely be reserved for long, meaningful conversations with friends and family, which in turn will add even more meaning to them. The phone call will no longer be taken for granted, but talking to robots will be.