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An Inside Look at Everything #New at Twitter

Twitter is a “water cooler, comedy club, and sports bar” all in one, said Twitter Canada’s managing director Paul Burns during Thursday’s virtual Twitter Canada Q2 Press Preview.

At a time when Canadians collectively miss and crave the sense of community offered by all three things, Twitter remains as relevant as ever for both brands and everyday users.

Like the millions of conversations that occur on its platform, Twitter is perpetually evolving.  

New and Upcoming Product Features

Twitter use has surged during the pandemic, as users old and new take to the platform to consume breaking news and discuss current events. On the user front, Twitter has worked hard to stay on top of the game in the social media space with the recent introduction of a handful of multifaceted features.

In a move that competes with the new Clubhouse app, the just-launched Twitter Spaces switched up Twitter this month by bringing timelines to life. With Spaces, people can host and listen to live audio conversations in chat rooms. “Spaces is the place for open conversations on Twitter with the authenticity and nuance only the human voice can bring to the conversation,” said Burns. So far, we’ve seen made-in-Canada spaces from Tangerine, Toronto Star, and singer Jann Arden.

Also new to Twitter is the Topics feature, which allows users to add fresh tweets to their timelines on the topics they care about the most – from celebs and breaking news, to sports and gaming. In Canada, this includes things like Toronto Raptors, Montreal Canadiens, news from Alberta, and the University of Toronto (to name a few), with new topics added almost weekly. Soon, Twitter users will also be able to create and join groups created around specific interests with the launch of Communities.

Perhaps the most buzzed about soon-to-launch feature – one that received the most attention during Twitter’s Analyst Day – was Super Follows. This feature will allow Twitter users to charge followers and give them access to extra content. This could mean bonus tweets, access to a community group, subscription to a newsletter, or a badge indicating your support. Undoubtedly, this will be a popular feature for the influencer set.

New Advertising Products

On the advertising front, the world’s largest brands continue to leverage Twitter and its tools to launch new products and campaigns and to connect with target audiences. “Twitter has earned the right to be in the marketing boardroom with some of the best marketing talent in the world,” said Burns. In a new rebrand unveiled this week, the platform’s ad suite now features 22 services named into five categories.

The Twitter platform is an impactful tool to acquire, engage, and monetize key audiences. It’s essentially a massive real-time focus group that offers instantaneous insights. Perhaps most importantly, Twitter builds brand trust and relevance – if managed properly, that is (we’ve seen the opposite happen as well).

In a decidedly successful move, GMC Canada turned to Twitter last October to launch the anticipated all-electric, zero-emissions Hummer EV with a live video reveal on Twitter Live. The feature allows brands to broadcast their biggest moments live to an audience that can join in real-time. GMC’s teaser Tweet was widely shared throughout the social media, getting users excited for the big reveal, as facilitated by Twitter.

One of Twitter’s new brand products is the image and video ad carousel feature, which launched in November 2020. Designed to reach new audiences in one Tweet, the feature lets users transition across two to six swipeable images and videos rather than featuring one static image. It’s a format designed to drive the right actions to achieve desired results, like app downloads or certain products on websites.

Another new addition to its suite of advertising products is the Branded Likes feature, which Twitter began testing in July 2020. The tool adds an animated element to a “like,” which users unlock by liking brand tweets. The attention-grabbing feature helps brands stick out on crowded social media feeds and entices users to share campaign hashtags. Partners chose hashtags that can trigger branded likes in both organic and promoted tweets that have a 24-hour shelf life. Companies like NASA, Disney+, and the NBA were first to use the feature.

The press preview also highlighted the Timeline Takeover (formerly known as First View) feature, which offers massive audience reach by offering priority access to people’s first impressions. The exclusive, single-day mass awareness package offers Twitter’s most valuable impressions to reach a receptive audience over a 24-hour time period using immersive autoplay videos at the top of the timeline.

First launched in 2019, Twitter Arthouse connects advertising partners with the creative capital and talent of influencers, artists, and editors whose skills can add a new dimension, relevance, and meaning to their content. Additionally, in February 2021, Twitter announced an update on its performance advertising efforts to include rebuilds of its App Installs and Website Clicks Objectives.

Engineering Updates

Twitter Canada also offered updates on its anticipated new Canadian engineering hub out of its Toronto office, which was announced last month. As it moves closer to materialization, positions are filling up with some of Toronto’s most skilled and seasoned minds (you can check out current openings viewable on Twitter’s career page). These initial engineering hires will be within the Discovery & Connection, Health, and Content teams within Twitter’s engineering organization.

Those in Discovery and Connection help users connect with people, conversations, and interests; those in Health work to maximize safety and minimize societal & individual harm for everyone; and the content team builds tools and experiences that enable customers to easily create content on Twitter platforms, both in text and media. 

Since opening its doors in 2013, the Toronto office has been home to sales, partnerships, policy, marketing, research, and curation workers, but not engineer teams. “You no longer have to move to San Francisco to have a deeply impactful and meaningful engineering career at Twitter,” said Burns.

Canada is now part of Twitter’s recent and ongoing journey to bring a strong engineering presence beyond the San Francisco Bay area and to multiple markets worldwide, building on past announcements like the February 2020 reveal of plans for a Singapore Engineering Centre.

“The most impactful new Twitter products will have Canadian fingerprints on them,” said Burns.

Erin Davis

Erin is a Toronto-based actor, writer and queen of the side hustle. When she’s not writing the day away in a face mask, she’s taking in the city’s vibrant arts scene, doing a red carpet interview or brunching with her leading ladies. Follow me: @erinnicoledavis