Twitter’s pitch of being the place to “see what’s happening” has become ad nauseam. However, unless you’re a power user of the internet, it’s often tricky to know which users and hashtags fulfill that promise. Now, Twitter wants to make it easier to keep up with global and local events.
The company is beginning to roll out additional features intended to help users explore news and commentary on the platform. The Explore tab will now surface tweets around topics that Twitter thinks might be relevant to a user. Twitter is also experimenting with push notifications (if a user has them turned on) that let users know when something is happening that they might want to know about.
According to Keith Coleman, Twitter’s vp of consumer products, the updates will provide portals for finding everyone that’s tweeting about a certain topic—whether it’s a popular TV show like “The Bachelor,” a sports championship like the NBA finals, or a news event like the volcanic eruption in Hawaii. He said Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey often describes Twitter as a “little bird on your shoulder,” so notifications are in line with that sentiment.
“Instead of following dozens of accounts, hashtags, and Moments, you can go into one page and get all of the conversations,” he said.
Indeed, the updates do seem like an expansion of Twitter’s Moment’s feature. However, while Moments just show a few highlights, the new features will be more of a expansive portal—maybe more like a rabbit hole—that users can go down.
So how will Twitter know what each person wants to see? The new features include a blend of human curation and algorithms, analyzing what a person tweets about, who they follow, and what’s happening nearby based on local tweets.
“We really wanted to make sure we had all the best content together,” said Joanna Geary, Twitter’s director of curation. “What we’re hoping people will find is that they’re able to engage with everything, and not just the recap of it.”
While the updates might help drive repeat or extended engagement—and therefore more room for more ads—there’s also a potential risk of experimenting with notifications: If someone gets too many notifications, or maybe those that aren’t interesting or relevant to them, they might mute the little bird on their digital shoulder altogether.