Twitter: it’s not just for finding out what your favorite celebrities think about the president, after a bottle of wine. Or at least, that’s not all the social media site wants to be known for.
It's been a minute or two since anyone could say with certainty what it is that Twitter is all about, however. Sure, it’s a spot to share your thoughts (like on Facebook) and photos (like on Instagram and Facebook), but it hasn’t had a defining characteristic that separates it from the pack in some time. It’s a misstep the social network is hoping to rectify by digging its teeth into the emerging live streaming market.
Back in June it was announced that Twitter’s head of product, Ed Ho, would be stepping down and Kayvon Beykpour, former CEO of Periscope, would be taking his place. The shift in management is part of a larger overall push by the company to become the premiere site for live events and news coverage.
It’s an exciting move for Twitter, which has seen declining numbers over the last few years as executives have filed in and out without leaving any easily definable sense of direction for the platform. Beykpour’s new gig has high enough turnover that it’s even been compared to teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts in the Harry Potter series.
Fans of Twitter have every reason to be optimistic that this new proposed identity will be the one that sticks. The social media network has been doing the legwork necessary to move things in the right direction, announcing back in April that they’ve more than doubled their content partnerships in the last year. They’re now working with NBC, ESPN, and more than two dozen others. Among their higher profile projects: SportsCenter Live, a Twitter-exclusive version of the ESPN staple.
To further embrace the extremely popular trend of live streaming, Twitter will soon be sending push notifications to users when an event that’s in their scope of interest goes live.
The latest shift in direction for the network couldn’t come at a better time. While their usership has dipped in recent years, below Instagram and even LinkedIn, viewership of live video on Twitter has exploded. Add the fact that Facebook recently lost its Trending section, and it leaves a definite vacuum in the environment of social media news providers. It doesn’t hurt that Twitter will still be able to use Periscope as a backbone.
The change bodes well for businesses looking to incorporate live events into their social media presence, too. If everything goes as planned, Twitter will transform into the go-to place for live streaming as new changes take place. This could mean a larger built-in audience, in the form of pre-existing followers, for conferences, product announcements, and special events. It’s already working, with Twitter’s new vibe having recently gone on a test ride with live footage of the 2018 World Cup. Viewers saw coverage from Fox receiving millions of views.
Overall, the change could be great for Periscope, too. The network, while slick as can be, has had a difficult time gaining a foothold since it was purchased by Twitter in 2015. Giving streaming a more permanent home on a widely used social network could be the shot in the arm that the app needs to take off as a vital aspect of Twitter’s reinvention.