2021 Social Media Trends Part 2 – Twitter

Even after all these years, it’s still difficult to say what Twitter is, what its key strengths are, and where it will look to grow in future. This is largely because despite the platform’s ongoing popularity, Twitter is largely unchanged, with no major innovation or updates that have altered how people use the app.

Twitter made tweets longer back in 2018 and has also tried out other options like live-streaming, Moments and audio tweets, but none of them have really caught on. For the most part, Twitter remains what it was at its beginning – a real-time stream of short, sharp updates, great for staying up with the latest info.

So how can Twitter evolve beyond this?

Fleets Updates

Twitter’s own version of Stories – ‘Fleets’ – is now available to all users and over the next year, we can expect Twitter to roll out new updates for the option as it looks to tap into the rising popularity of the format.

The notable omissions from Fleets are AR options and effects, and it seems likely that Twitter will add various tools on these fronts, assisted by its acquisition of Chroma Labs back in February. Sadly, many of these additions will be behind time. People already have a range of effects and visual tools on Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok. It would be unlikely for Twitter to surpass those and make Fleets a bigger consideration in this respect.

Fleets will stick around, and some people will use it, but it doesn’t seem like it’s going to become a major element of the Twitter experience.

Audio Spaces

Twitter is also working on Audio Spaces, which will be a Clubhouse-like, audio meet-up feature, giving users another way to interact. Like audio tweets, it is likely to be interesting for a bit, but unlikely to become a transformative feature in the app. Even with low expectations, Audio Spaces is limited at best.

Topic Focus

Twitter has also been looking to expand its potential for engagement by providing users with more recommendations of Topics to follow in their feeds, as opposed to profiles.

In 2021, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Twitter take this a step further and add Topic spaces, where it will collect relevant tweets on a topic, curated by Twitter’s team, into a dedicated page or section in the app.

This could be similar to its current listings related to in-progress sporting events and live-streams, providing a more immersive, focused listing of key tweets and profiles on each topic, which could help to improve engagement.

Status Indicators on Profiles

The platform has been testing these for a while and it seems like a logical addition – especially in line with the roll-out of Fleets. It is not a major element, but it could provide more opportunity for connection and engagement – especially around major events.

Verification Categories

Twitter recently announced that it is working on new categories of verification, beyond just the basic blue tick. That could see new types of verified accounts, which could include specific indicators based on what each represents.

The major addition here could be a new identifier for bot accounts. In October last year, Twitter said that it was working on a possible identifier for bot profiles, in order to let users know who (or what) they’re dealing with.

That could change engagement in the app significantly and if Twitter wanted to take it a step further…

Bot Crackdown

Bots remain a major problem on Twitter, with various political trends attributes to bot ‘armies’ that are utilised to manipulate engagement and sway option.

But what if, as part of its new bot verification process, Twitter established a threshold on what qualifies as a bot account. What if Twitter said, for example, that ‘if 80% of your tweets are retweets, you’ll be labelled as a bot profile’.

That would annoy a lot of users, but it might also get more users sharing more of their own thoughts, as opposed to simply amplifying existing comments. That would also be in line with Twitter’s more recent pushes to get users to take more time to consider what they’re sharing, as opposed to straight retweets.

Trump Gets Banned

Will Twitter take the plunge and ban Donald Trump’s account outright?

Many have been calling on Twitter to take action on Trump’s account for years, and with the former President soon to be tweeting as a civilian, Twitter has already said that he’ll lose any special consideration or protections.

If Twitter wants to make a statement, as it did by banning political ads in 2019, it could look to cut off Trump completely. Of course, this could generate a lot of headlines but long-term the benefits for the app might not be so significant.

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