This week, Twitter unveiled a custom timeline feature that gives users the ability to build public feeds populated with content tailored to specific criteria, including users, keywords and hashtags. This new function opens some interesting doors for regular, everyday Twitter users as well as for online brand managers.
While we still have a lot of thinking to do about the marketing applications of custom Twitter timelines, the following four opportunities stand out immediately:
- Campaigns – Organizational campaigns can easily lose newsworthiness after they launch. Custom timelines can help extend the life and reach of a campaign by maintaining a steady stream of current mentions by fans, followers, news media and the company’s own online properties. Timelines also can capture testimonials and other positive feedback that can be used for paid advertising, email blasts and other tactics in an integrated campaign.
- Thought Leadership – Just as Twitter is full of fan-created content, the social network also is populated with insights and opinions from established industry experts. Brands can compile and share their own expertise and thought leadership along with that of allied individuals and groups in a custom timeline embedded directly into the company’s online newsroom or elsewhere. One benefit of this approach is that it can generate visibility and awareness among those who may not follow the company’s Twitter feed or even use Twitter at all.
- Special Events – Much of Twitter’s appeal comes from its ability to amplify conversations between brands and followers in real time. Using custom timelines to bring together Tweets on special events enables brands to not only be the focus of conversation, but to serve as the host of it as well. Media personality Carson Daly uses custom timelines to share content from fans and contestants of NBC’s The Voice during and after live broadcasts.
- Niche Audiences – As deployed by POLITICO, custom timelines make it easy to place a spotlight on an organization’s ability to communicate with a number of different—but equally important—audiences. Brands can demonstrate versatility and relevance by constructing timelines dedicated to niche follower groups that otherwise may not overlap.
While custom timelines are still in their infancy, more and more user and brand-created threads are produced and shared every day. We will be watching closely to see how brands and other marketers use them. What do you think is most exciting about Twitter custom timelines?