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Twitter Talks Up New Storytelling Tools

By Richard Adhikari
Oct 22, 2015 2:46 PM PT
twitter-storytelling

Twitter on Wednesday announced two tools, "Publish" and "Curator," a Collections API, and an ecosystem of partners designed to let publishers organize tweets to better tell a tale.

The API creates a single Collection ID that can be used to edit, update and publish a story from any tool in the Twitter ecosystem.

Publishers can use TweetDeck, Curator or tools from Twitter's ecosystem partners -- Flowics, ScribbleLive, Dataminr, Spredfast and Wayin -- to find the tweets they want and organize them into a single story, then display them on their own websites with Embedded Timelines, or in their apps with TwitterKit on iOS and Android using a few lines of code.

The backgrounds and text colors are customizable, so the timelines will blend into publishers' apps.

Publishers can update their collection of tweets from any tool that supports the Collections API without needing additional embed code or to update their website or resubmit their apps to app stores, Twitter said.

Twitter also released a grid display publishers can use to embed their stories on any site or in any app, and announced publish.twitter.com, which will be a one-stop shop where users can preview the different types of displays offered in Twitter Kit and grab the embed code for any Twitter content they want to publish.

"I think Twitter wants to be the go-to platform, going against Facebook, Google and Reddit," said Susan Schreiner, an analyst at C4 Trends.

Twitter now offers developers an in-app store button and that, together with its partnerships, means it's adopting a new business model, she told the E-Commerce Times.

Twitter "will become part of people's businesses. It's not just going to be about sharing information with a friend," Schreiner predicted.

More on the Twitter Tools

Content publishers will have to enter the Collection ID or URL for any story they create to use publish.twitter.com, which will then display a preview of the responsive grid and provide a single line of embed code they can use to publish tweets on their websites.

Curator lets publishers discover, curate and display Twitter content about any subject on any screen, and has advanced filtering capabilities.

Collections is a TweetDeck feature that lets users select tweets manually or programmatically to create a timeline. You can group or organize tweets in collections around specific topics, interests, events and conversations, and those tweets will be delivered in real time.

Each collection is public and has its own page on Twitter.

Tweets appear on the timeline in the order they are added and can be deleted later. Timelines can be embedded by clicking the "share" icon in TweetDeck. The timelines are live, meaning new tweets will show up everywhere a timeline has been embedded.

Impact of the New Tools

These tools "represent a sort of ecosystem, but the ecosystem that really matters are the digital agencies getting more enthusiastic about leveraging Twitter," said Alan Pelz-Sharpe, a research director at 451 Research.

The new tools and ecosystem "could be just what Twitter's looking for -- something to essentially stream linked content in a cohesive manner rather than the fragmented way it works today," he told the E-Commerce Times, but they "have to drive revenue or they'll just be nice to have."

App and content developers will be keen to try the new tools because they help "build structure and get a more complex message across," Pelz-Sharpe said.

A New Business Model?

"The interesting thing is some of the partnerships Twitter has set up," C4 Trends' Schreiner said. For example, one partner is JCDecaux, which specializes in outdoor marketing, and will begin displaying tweets on screens in bus terminals, shopping malls and elevators.

That "will be of value to different types of businesses to provide up-to-the-minute news or some form of advertising," Schreiner said. "You take an elevator in a building and its screen displays an ad for a nearby bank or store, for example."

The in-app store button will be available free in the Twitter SDK, she said, and "will motivate developers to use their platform" because users can make purchases from within the app.


Richard Adhikari has written about high-tech for leading industry publications since the 1990s and wonders where it's all leading to. Will implanted RFID chips in humans be the Mark of the Beast? Will nanotech solve our coming food crisis? Does Sturgeon's Law still hold true? You can connect with Richard on Google+.


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