Twitter Adds Mobile Video Capability, Private Group Messaging

Twitter is enhancing its user experience by rolling out two big features today: group direct messages and a new mobile video tool. The added capabilities will allow the platform to more effectively compete with social platforms such as WhatsApp and Instagram, according to many in the industry.

In a move that could present big opportunities for advertisers, Twitter’s new mobile camera tool will allow users to film, edit, and share videos of up to 30 seconds in their timeline. iPhone users will be able to upload videos from their own camera roll as well, and the feature will be available to Android users soon.

Charity Stebbins, senior content strategist at Web presence management company Conductor, thinks the mobile camera tool will make it easier for Twitter users to consume content on their own terms. “Companies need to make content that consumers want in the channel and medium they desire,” she says. “Those that create targeted earned media in a variety of mediums, including video, which is one of the highest converting channels, will see the greatest return on their content investments.”

Dovev Goldstein, chief executive (CEO) of Moment.me, a Tel Aviv-based start-up that collects social media content and presents associated photos and videos relevant to a user’s shared experience, and Chevan Nanayakkara, vice president of media supply at personalized video ad platform Eyeview, believe that data is the essence of Twitter’s video play. When Twitter appends its user data to video advertising, it will be able to help advertisers deliver more personalized video ads.

“For advertisers, the exciting prospect for advertising has always been data,” Nanayakkara explains. “Twitter’s user data is immense and because its database is public, the opportunity to retarget users with like-minded interests is very exciting. Being able to apply Twitter user data to video ad personalization is a slam dunk.”

Goldstein adds that advertisers can leverage Twitter’s video offering to refine their ad strategy on the platform, especially during live events. “Twitter will provide advertisers with useful initial data on how users interact with video,” he says. “[The company] has an incredible connection to the immediacy of the live event. No other platform has quite the same ‘live’ connection to what’s going on around the world.”

“What we could eventually see is brands tapping into opportunities presented by unexpected world events – much like Oreo’s timely and ingenious response to the Super Bowl blackout last year – except now through the richer and high-engagement video medium,” he predicts.

In addition to its new video tools, Twitter has added private group messaging to its platform. Previously, Twitter users had to follow each other in order to send direct messages. But now instead of having to follow one another in order to communicate privately on the platform, a user can start a conversation with a group of followers without following them back. When a user is added to a group chat, they will get a notification.

Twitter users now will be able to start a group chat without following each other.

“By adding direct messaging, [Twitter] is clearly responding to the runaway success of messaging apps like WhatsApp. Up until now, Twitter has been more interest-based than friendship- or connection-based,” says Goldstein. “By adding group direct messaging, Twitter is bringing the more private, connection-based experience of WhatsApp and even Facebook, to its own offering.”

Nanayakkara agrees that Twitter is trying to become a more “closed” communication network like Facebook with this move. “It’s becoming clear that [with Messenger and the WhatsApp acquisition], Facebook is establishing itself as a single, convenient way for users to communicate privately. In this regard, Twitter is playing catch-up,” he notes.

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