Twitter got a makeover, and it's looking a whole lot more like the Facebook news feed.
The company implemented a significant design change yesterday, letting photos and the first frame of Vine videos automatically display in users' streams. Previously, a user needed to click on a link to open photos. The net effect will be for the Twitter stream -- once known for the spareness and simplicity of cascading 140-character-or-less text messages -- to be populated by rich media.
Twitter's announcement was positioned as a design enhancement aimed at users, but there are big implications for marketers and how the social network is courting them.
"These rich tweets can bring your followers closer to what's happening and make them feel like they are right there with you," said Twitter's VP-product Michael Sippey in a blog post.
That statement is especially true for marketers, who can now essentially publish large display ads and show them to users in their own streams. Take the tweet from Samsung, a frequenter purchaser of Twitter's promoted products.
If the move makes Twitter ads more desirable, it will drive bidding prices up and yield more ad revenue for Twitter. Also significant is the fact that Twitter only charges advertisers when a user somehow engages with a promoted tweet -- by favoriting it or retweeting it, for example. With an ad that occupies much more real estate, the likelihood of an engagement is higher.
The update is available on Twitter.com and Twitter's mobile apps. Only photos from Twitter's own services will show up in user streams.