Twitter is testing a slew of new features that it believes will make it easier for users to know when others on the site want to start or join a conversation.
Sara Haider, director of product management at Twitter, and Mike Kruzeniski, senior director of product design, discussed the new features this week at an event hosted by Fast Company in New York City.
“We want the best conversation for you coming to you as quickly as possible,” Kruzeniski said at the event. “Can you tell us what you’re interested in? And [can] we quickly get you to that conversation?”
Twitter highlighted four new features in particular to Fast Company, though the company says it’s still in testing mode and hasn’t committed to adding any of them. First, it’s considering highlighting replies in a different color, to make it easier for users to keep track of back-and-forth conversations with an individual. Second, it is testing out adding a prompt encouraging users to reply below every single tweet. This would be in addition to the chat bubble icon already located below every tweet, as evidently Twitter thinks that icon isn’t enough to start conversations.
hey Twitter. we've been playing with some rough features to make it feel more conversational here. presence and reply threading. still early and iterating on these ideas. thoughts? pic.twitter.com/3U3NvpHWPy
— sara haider (@pandemona) August 31, 2018
The other two changes Twitter is considering are “status indicators” that show when a user is online, and the ability to pin an “icebreaker” question to the top of their profile that asks for replies and tweets about a specific topic, like thoughts on a recent TV episode or NFL game.
The bottom line is that all of these changes are designed to help users engage with other people who want to have a conversation about a specific topic, but they won’t help users already overwhelmed by the amount of conversation on the platform. Victims of harassment and targeted pile-ons on Twitter may not be thrilled about the idea of being encouraged to respond to every single tweet.
In August, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey told the Washington Post that he was rethinking some of the core “incentives” of Twitter, like the way it displays likes and follower accounts. He also floated other changes, like adding factual context to false tweets, but not going so far as removing them for containing false information.
Twitter’s third quarter earnings call is tomorrow, so perhaps the company will discuss other redesigns its considering as it seeks to accelerate its consistently slow-growing number of monthly active users.