Two thoughts crossed my path today. Two video thoughts and how it relates to Twitter, my most often used platform. They seem unrelated, but, yet, they’re along the same video path.
An Adweek article written by Garett Sloane today outlined a current issue being debated behind closed Twitter doors. It’s the dreaded “auto-play” feature.
The auto-play feature is not a foreign concept to Facebook/Instagram users. Ever scroll through your timeline and you suddenly hear a sound coming from your phone, tablet or desktop? Yes, that’s the dreaded auto-play video you just came across. While it is a feature that can be easily disabled on Facebook, it’s not as easy to do on Instagram.
Long-time Twitter users don’t always like changes to their Twitter-experience. Ask any sports journalist about “old TweetDeck” (before it was bought by Twitter) and you’re bound to hear a long, wistful sigh. [For those who didn’t have the privilege of old TweetDeck, it was the perfect third-party app for Twitter. Perfect. sigh] This year, we had buy buttons, mute buttons, tweet-sharing via DMs, tailored audience experiment (ugh), promoted tweets – if there’s a change to be made to increase users, Twitter will make it.
There are more changes to come.
But, the auto-play feature is a new one to me. Perhaps the biggest yet. As Sloane said in his Adweek piece, Twitter is playing catch-up in the video space. According to Sloane, Facebook is seeing tremendous growth in terms of videos being shown on a daily basis. Growth numbers that Twitter cannot begin to compete with in its current format.
If the potential is there, then Twitter would be crazy not to test it out. As a long-time tweeter, I personally would hate the feature unless it can be easily disabled. Twitter is my news-feed. When a story breaks, I don’t need videos automatically playing while I’m trying to find information on it. That would be annoying.
The crux of the matter is long-time users don’t always matter to Twitter. They don’t bring in the revenue like big-money brands. And, what brands want – they usually get.
A Reporter’s Dream
Do you ever have a moment where you check Twitter and you see a tweet that resonates with you? That happened to me today. Unfortunately, the tweet has now been deleted (no idea why, either). But, through the magic that is Topsy, I found a retweet of it:
Mark S Luckie is the Manager of Journalism and News at Twitter. He posed the question with the hashtag, #TwitterWishList, asking journalists what Twitter tool they wished they had. It couldn’t be one that already existed and they just didn’t know about or have access to it. It had to be one that wasn’t created yet.
Checking his @ mentions (like a good journalist), I saw this terrific one:
@marksluckie photo watermark
— max zimbert (@maxzimbert) December 16, 2014
Watermarking capabilities within Twitter itself would prevent the “stealing” of photos that is so prevalent today on the platform. A third-party app is required in order to watermark any photos you have taken, if you don’t want them used without your permission. A cumbersome task, let me tell you.
I liked that idea…but I wanted more and tweeted as such:
— E Sunny Cadwallader (@CadChica) December 16, 2014
@marksluckie From the tweet box, simply click "record" and you could tweet out the update while you're recording it. Live feed in the tweet
— E Sunny Cadwallader (@CadChica) December 16, 2014
That’s my idea. Doing a live-video within a tweet. Call it Google+ Hangout meets Twitter. Sort of. I’ve done a Google+ Hangout on a live remote before. It’s not the easiest process to do a show that way, but it can be done. That’s the only way a simple journalist like me can do a video update currently. I have used an app called VoiceByte, but it’s a still image with audio only, not video.
There are times when I’ve been at a game and thought, I wish I could do a live-update within Twitter itself. Twitter is where sports journalists are at. We share information and converse with each other, fans, teams, athletes – all through Twitter. It’s what has helped make Twitter what it is today. A live-update feature would be a natural fit.
It doesn’t have to be a long video. A short, simple update is all it would take like what you see on a newscast. In sports terms, think of it like when ESPN or Fox cuts away to a sideline reporter during the game. They give a quick update on the team from the sidelines. Nothing fancy needed. Just straight and to the point.
How great would that be for journalists covering a live event, whether it’s sports or some other news event? Journalists share events on Twitter as it is, why not add live-video capabilities too?
Are there risks? Yes. There is the potential for it to be used in illicit or unsavory ways. Twitter would need to start slow with access for the feature. It shouldn’t make it available to the masses at first, if ever. Start with journalists. If they do that, I’d be more than happy to test it out for them.
Hint, hint, Mr Luckie.
For now, it’s only a wish. A #TwitterWishList.
Final Thoughts: Twitter is second-fiddle to Facebook. There is no disputing that in terms of number of users globally. Whether their goal is to overtake Facebook or not, Twitter needs to keep evolving to satisfy shareholders and gain new users. Will either or both of these options improve the Twitter user’s experience? Maybe. Twitter’s bottom line? That’s a strong possibility.