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The 4 Big Changes Twitter Is Making to Convince People to Keep Coming Back

Instant timelines for newcomers and other radical moves

Dick Costolo is trying to give 500 million Twitter visitors a reason to stay. Photo: Kimberly White/Getty Images for Vanity Fair

Twitter can make a bad first impression. When new people sign up they often fall off quickly. The San Francisco-based social platform has a half-billion monthly visitors but only 284 million registered monthly users because people stop by but don't really buy in.

That's why Twitter CEO Dick Costolo revealed some big changes that were revealed today, making good on a strategy he announced months ago. Twitter is testing features that should make the messaging service easier for newcomers to get right away, and cut down on some of the noise on the platform that causes users to miss some of the best stuff.

Twitter unveiled renovations at a conference today with Wall Street, which helped turn around its struggling stock. Here is a look at what’s coming to the platform:

  1. The introduction of Instant Timeline changes what people see from day one when they sign up with Twitter. It will give the new users an easy way to follow the accounts most relevant to them and start seeing messages right away, rather than facing a silent wall.
  2. Twitter will now show users the most popular messages they missed when they were gone from the site with highlights from their timelines. With Twitter there has always been the risk that you won’t see a message you might enjoy just because you weren't watching at just the right moment. Now, Twitter will do some curating to catch you up on what you missed, not unlike how Facebook manages your News Feed with the posts it thinks you'd most enjoy.
  3. Video is an all-important area for all social media, and Twitter has its Vine app for users to film six-second clips. However, Twitter is building video capabilities right into its main app for people to tweet footage, and brands are increasingly using video in their Twitter messages.
  4. Celebrity is one of Twitter's main draws, and 200 million fans go to Twitter to see a star's profile but they don't actually stick around. Twitter is tweaking celebrity pages now, and it will start pointing these visitors to other high-profile accounts in an attempt to get the fly-by users to stick around and maybe even sign up.
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