Twitter debuts a new app for its most popular users

Steven Loeb · June 22, 2016 · Short URL:

Engage will help Twitter's elite to learn more about their audience, and see their key stats

There was a stat about Twitter I remember seeing years ago, and it always stuck me with as a big potential problem for the company: that around 90 percent of the content was coming from 10 percent of its userbase. In other words, only if you were big enough to have a lot of followers were going to make a dent. That kind of imbalance does not make for good engagement rates.

While Jack Dorsey has spent the last year or so trying to make the service more palatable, or, in his words, less "confusing," for the average user, there's the whole other side of the service, those users who actually creating the content, who have not gotten the same treatment.

That's why Twitter introduced a new stand-alone app on Tuesday, aimed at its most prolific users, allowing them to engage better with their followers. Called Twitter Engage, it automatically brings up the user's "most important follows" and @mentions from their fans. 

"As creators, influencers, and public figures, you have a special connection with your followers on Twitter. Through Tweets, you can share content and have conversations with fans and other influencers in real time — and now we’ve made it easier to manage those daily interactions and measure success,"  Matt Dennebaum, Senior Product Manager at Twitter, wrote in a blog post. 

A big component of Engage seems to be analytics, giving those users an easier way to see their "key Twitter stats," such as likes, Retweets, @mentions and video views, and to filter them via different time periods. They can also see audience demographics and a real-time feed of what their fans are Tweeting about. 

"Twitter Engage reviews all of your videos, GIFs, images, and other Twitter activity, allowing you to efficiently track post-by-post performance and continue the conversation around your content," the company wrote. 

The app is available for anyone to download but will be most useful for those with large followings. It seems to be less about the number of people who sign up for it, but about people being able to use the app to grow their audience and meaningfully engage with their fans.

An important aspect of this new app will be how Twitter chooses to monetize it.

VatorNews has heard that there will be a revenue split between publishers and the company, with 70 percent going to publishers and 30 percent for Twitter. That means that content creators receive the lion's share of revenue through Twitter's Amplify program.

Since analytics are a big part of this, and knowing what fans are Tweeting about, there could also be plans to monetize that aspect, maybe by selling that data to third parties.

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What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

Where did the idea for Twitter come from?

Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

How do you make money from Twitter?

There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet. 

At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.

Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.


What's next for Twitter?

We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.