Twitter’s New Custom Timeline’s And What To Do With Them

Twitter Just Announced A New ‘Custom Timelines’ Feature

The new feature is similar to the third part social platform Storify, but remains native and unique to Twitter. The ‘Big’ idea here is to empower Twitter users to choose the tweets that are most important or relevant to them and their followers.

Setting Up Custom Timelines In TweetDeck

In case you missed it, TweetDeck is Twitter’s own dashboard for managing and monitoring one or several social accounts. It’s functionality is similar to HootSuite, but most of our social team actually prefers TweetDeck’s user interface. You can now create a new custom timeline in TweetDeck simply by adding a new ‘Custom Timeline’ column and then dragging the tweets you want to be included into it.  Find more details and advanced options through the API HERE.

How To Share Custom Timelines

TweetDeck offers you three sharing options for your custom timelines. In the TD interface you’ll see the universal ‘share’ icon at the top of your Custom Timeline column. Once you click you’ll see the drop down menu with the options to ‘View on Twitter’, ‘Embed’, or ‘Tweet About Timeline’. Embedding the timeline offers the more diverse applications, but we’ll get to that in a minute. The other options allow other users to view your timeline and follow it within Twitter. That’s all pretty straight forward but there’s another interesting feature we need to dive into, the ability to access and follow other user’s timelines.

Accessing Custom Timelines From Other Users

From TweetDeck you can view other user’s custom timelines from their profile cards. Simply click on their avatar and it should pop up. From there you can choose to add their timeline as a column in your own TweetDeck dashboard. This makes it easy for people who are used to using TweetDeck but it may cause a slower adoption speed of the feature for people who aren’t.

At this point I bet you’re all asking the same question, “Why does everything have to happen in TweetDeck?”.  Earlier this year Twitter invested some serious, time, effort, and money into revamping the platform and we can only assume that this is one tactic they’re using to get users more engaged with all of the features of the network. It’s also a step in reinforcing user loyalty in the long run. We’re not sure how much resistance they’ll see in getting users to adopt the tool but we think it’s pretty great.

Now that we’re through all of the ‘Need To Know’ information, let’s talk about how to use the new feature for your business.

#1 Promoting Events

For any event that involves people you can expect to see some activity on Twitter. Obviously the amount of people at the event and the social appeal of the event will play a factor in the volume of social activity but for the sake of getting the concept across we’ll generalize. Custom Timelines allow you to control the social focus of what people are saying about it on Twitter. This offers a huge benefit to you because instead of relying on a hashtag to connect everything that’s being said about the event, you can choose to show the best  of what’s being said, removing critics and trolls from the equation. To get this to work smoothly you’ll need to do a few things in advance.

1. Make sure your team, or person responsible for Twitter, has guidelines on what to include in the timeline and how often they should be adding to it.

2. Set up and promote the timeline ahead of time. Since it’s such a new feature, you may have to provide your followers with directions on how to add it.

3. Do not fill the timeline with generic promotional tweets about your event. Try to include real tweets and conversations from ‘average’ users. If you fail to do this your followers will feel like they’re getting cheated of the real experience and push back.

#2 Product Launches

Curating the social buzz around a new product does several things for a business. It gather’s social/customer equity, it makes media discovery easier for writers/blogger, and it gives your customers a chance to be seen in the limelight. Anytime you plan on using this feature you should plan a time period specifically for promoting it, this let’s your loyal followers know where to look and also helps establish some search real estate before the buzz starts buzzing. Once you have that planned and someone ready to man the helm, you’ll need to be looking for three types of tweets:

1. Customer Testimonials and Product Tweets – this could be people who have just ordered it and are tweeting about their excitement or new users tweeting about their experience so far. You may also want to include common questions you’re seeing with your replies to act as a Twitter FAQ.

2. Product/Service Reviews – Include the good, the bad and the mediocre so people know that you’re not just putting on a pretty face. Doing this shows your confidence in the product/service and also establishes higher credibility and trust with your followers.

3. Media Coverage – If your launch gets covered by a respectable publication or media outlet you should definitely let your fans, and all those watching, know about it. This builds instant credibility with some of the people who may have been on the fence and can drive more impulse purchases or conversions. Add them to your timeline, retweet them, favorite them, and then add them to your publishing schedule sporadically over the next couple weeks.

#3 Tweet Ups or Tweet Chats

These are traditionally done by way of following a hashtag and they usually involve a host who drives the conversation but shooting out questions or topics and allowing allotted chunks of time for discussion. If you’ve ever participated in one of these before you know that it’s easy to get lost, miss something important or fall behind. Using custom timelines along with the hashtag allows the host to make it very clear when a new question is presented. I’d recommend adding the announcements, directions for participation, and topics/questions to the custom timeline and then retweeting or replying to the best comments and questions as they come in. After the event is done you can go back and add some of the participation tweets to your timeline and then embed it in your blog for a recap.

We’re excited to test out this feature and will work on coming up with some more creative and innovative applications for all of you. If you see anything worth noting, or if you have any ideas you want to share, be sure to drop us a comment or shoot us a tweet. We’ll get back to you quickly.

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