- Twitter on Wednesday announced updates to its app to focus on news, major events and personalized content, according to a company blog post. The platform in the next few months will roll out features that include alerts that appear at the top of timelines and push notifications for live events, such as the FIFA World Cup that opens today in Russia.
- The social app is expanding the "Happening Now" feature that the company added last year to the top of sports news feeds to provide alerts about a user's favorite teams and to show tweets about live games. As part of the update, Twitter will add that feature to breaking and personalized news.
- Keith Coleman, vice president of product at the company, said it's also redesigned the Explore tab to be organized by topic rather than broader categories like the type of content. Topic tabs in the Explore tab will let users find trending tweets and a customized series of posts. Twitter also recently redesigned its Moments feature that highlights top tweets about an event.
Twitter has steadily added new features and redesigned its app over the years, and this week's announcement indicates that the company wants to build on its core competency of providing instantaneous updates from users. The redesign may help to the company to accelerate growth from its user base of about 336 million people. Twitter's user growth slowed to 6% in Q1 2018 from a year earlier, leaving the company in a distant third place behind Facebook (2.2 billion users) and Instagram (800 million). Meanwhile, Snapchat has grown to 191 million users and is more popular than Twitter among U.S. teenagers that represent future social media audiences.
While user growth has been sluggish, Twitter's has improved engagement and click-through rates, JPMorgan internet analyst Doug Anmuth told CNBC. Twitter's efforts to be more engaging for audiences and advertisers are being noticed among investors, with its stock jumping 155% in the past year to a three-year high, per the New York Times.
Twitter's focus on news follows a move this month by Facebook to remove the "Trending" topics feature that compiles popular news from its social network in an effort to ensure that users see news from trustworthy sources. The company started testing ways to show news including a "breaking news label" and "today in" for local news. People are using the social network less and less to find and share news while turning to alternative platforms like WhatsApp instead, per Oxford University's Reuters Institute. The use of Facebook for news dropped by 9% from 2017 to 2018 in the U.S., with news consumption among younger groups falling 20%.