Google knows what you're searching for; Facebook knows who you are, and Twitter knows what you're (supposedly) interested in. User data is a critical component of a business's monetization strategy but companies must deliver value to their users as well.Navigating Twitter is a feat of patience. The tweets of everyone you follow are presented in reverse chronological order, with no easy way to separate the relevant tweets from the noise.
The social network is aware that its user interface needs work. It has added a few improvements such as letting users organize the accounts they follow under lists and as well as "mute" or hide tweets from accounts we don't want to see, without unfollowing them.
But instead of aggressively improving its clunky interface, Twitter is focused on growing ad revenue. Twitter continues to roll out products that are designed to let brands both amplify and segment their reach. Earlier this week, Twitter unveiled its latest ad product: syndicated promoted tweets that appear outside of Twitter's site.
The program is starting with two partners--news app Flipboard and Yahoo Japan. The way it works is brands will be able to "run a Promoted Tweet campaign on Twitter, with specific creative and targeting, and simultaneously run the campaign off Twitter, with the same targeting and creative in the Flipboard app," Twitter explains in a blog post.
Benefits of the new program include "great content and monetization opportunities for our syndication partners" along with "high ROI for marketers, and, ultimately, a great experience for users." Twitter adds.
I wouldn't bet on users agreeing that seeing the same ad on Twitter and another site counts as a great experience though. Twitter is also testing a new timeline that uses an algorithm to deliver recommended content based on an analysis of a person's phone contact list. The algorithm uses information like who your contacts follow on Twitter to guess which accounts and topics might interest you.
But just because your friends are interested in certain topics, that doesn't necessarily mean you care about those topics too. Notably, users must give Twitter access to their friends' phone numbers, which the company could presumably use as additional marketing data.
Twitter is facing scrutiny for sluggish user growth. Last year, the number of average monthly active users increased by 4.8 percent in Q3, as compared to 5.8 percent and 6.3 percent in Q1 and Q2, respectively. Investors will be watching Twitter's active user base growth when the company releases its fourth quarter earnings later today.
But if Twitter doesn't give users more reasons to stay, the only people on Twitter will be the advertisers (and journalists).