Twitter has introduced a new feature called ‘Conversations’ to its micro-blogging service, intended to help users navigate conservations between users. It’s thought that the changes are part of an attempt by the tech company to increase its user base ahead of a potential IPO.
The new feature will start rolling out immediately, with tweets that form part of a conversation shown in chronological order. “You’ll see up to three Tweets in sequence in your home timeline,” said Twitter in an official statement on their site. “If you want to see more, you can tap a Tweet to see all the replies, including those from people you don’t follow.”
Tech journalist Om Malik has described the change as “yet another step towards making Twitter more Facebook-like” - ie, encouraging users to participate in conversations and spend more time on the site: “It is the same reason why most of us leave Facebook turned on in a browser window or a Facebook app running in the background.”
Helping people to use Twitter as more than just live-stream of opinion and news stories has also been the aim in making the site more content rich. Photos were introduced with Instagram (before Facebook took them back), gifs/videos with Vine, and an attempt was made to introduce music back in April, though that has been less successful.
Rumours of an initial public offering (IPO) for Twitter have been swirling for a long time, with inevitable comparisons made with Facebook’s IPO. This was widely considered a bit of a flop: rocketing share prices made early investors rich but prices soon fell sharply, causing the company to stumble and lose confidence at a key stage in development. They've only recovered recently with the successful leverage of ad revenue on mobile.
Twitter launched a year after Facebook but has taken longer to build its revenue, perhaps making for a more cautious company. Revenue for Twitter is estimated to be around $580 million this year (compare that to Facebook’s $1.81bn revenue in Q2 2013 alone) but the total company valuation is around $10bn, a hefty figure.
Adding features like ‘Conservations’ will hopefully increase user numbers and get individuals to stay on the site longer (the bounce rate), making Twitter a more attractive prospect for advertisers and strengthening its position ahead of possible IPO.