While Elon is reimagining Twitter, here are some feature requests from a long-time power user

By now, we all know the story about Elon Musk’s bid to buy Twitter. Musk says the key motivation behind the move is that he believes in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and he believes free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy.

Fine, that’s a policy decision on how the platform is run and if his bid is successful, he’ll be able to implement that. What I care about is the user experience and as someone who’s used the platform almost every single day since joining in February 2008, I hope Elon also takes on board some community feature requests, similar to how he does with Tesla software updates.

Feature requests

1. Paste images into Tweetdeck

If you’ve only ever used the mobile app or the Twitter website, you’re missing out. TweetDeck.com allows you to run multiple columns of Tweets, surfacing content from searches, hashtags, lists of users or individual users.

This really is a powerful way to stay across topics you care about and personally I run search columns around local issues in my town, country, different tech sources, electric vehicles, renewables and more. You still get your main timeline from people you follow and replies from people responding on your posts, but the glanceability on Tweetdeck is like nothing else.

One big frustration I have with Tweetdeck is that it hasn’t been treated as a first-class citizen. This means new features often come months after twitter.com and the mobile app, if at all.

As a workflow, I regularly use the snipping tool to capture something on my screen and if I want to paste it into the new tweet window on TweetDeck, I can’t do it. I need to save the image out, then click add image, then browse to where I save it, it’s clunky and when you do this multiple times a day, this gets old fast.

The new compose area on Twitter.com supports pasting from your clipboard without issue.

2. TweetDeck filter templates

Each TweetDeck column you create can have filters to help increase the signal to noise. I often filter columns to only show content with Media included, but you can opt to see all tweets, ones with links, or I’m sure a favourite of Elon’s only posts that include GIFs.

You can exclude words from your search (i.e. crypto if you’re not into that), select which language and if retweets are included in the stream or not. You can filter by location by verified users or members of a list.

You also can filter on Engagement, ensuring a post has x amount of retweets, likes or replies before you see it, that way others’ interactions with that tweet are essentially acting like a verification the content is useful.

Finally, there’s a preference around the media size, with choices to hide the media altogether, small, medium, or what I prefer, large images that fill the wide of the column.

So my issue with these filters is that once you’ve crafted your perfect recipe in one column, there’s no way to duplicate that set of preferences to another column. This gets old fast when you run as many as 10 or more columns. If Twitter was to add filter templates, or the ability to duplicate columns, then simply change the search terms, this would solve this problem.

3. Twitter polls can’t include media

After posting almost 125,000 times on Twitter, I know that posts with images and video, always do better than posts without. Humans are visual, so this shouldn’t be shocking to people, but what is shocking is that you can’t post a poll with media.

How great would it be to be able to post an image and run a poll to get feedback on a photo or artwork? It would also be amazing to post a video and ask people to watch a clip, then vote in a poll. Neither of these are options that exist on Twitter today, a real missed opportunity.

4. Native video

We all know TikTok is the hottest new social network on the planet and that’s all about video. Twitter on the other hand really hasn’t been serious about video on the platform and should have responded by now.

Video on Twitter is largely made up of users sharing YouTube content which takes the Twitter audience and their valuable eyeballs off to Google’s platform to be lost in video content for minutes, or even hours.

The small amount of native video content is also severely limited in the size and length restrictions placed on uploaders and if you shot something in 4K on your new fancy flagship smartphone, forget it.

Moving to host native video would not come cheap, but has the opportunity to dramatically increase usage time on the platform.

5. Live video

If you asked the majority of users to GoLive on Twitter right now, they wouldn’t know-how. For some reason, Twitter has buried the option, when it could be such a big part of the platform. Remember Periscope, which failed miserably? When users think about going Live, they’re far more likely to do it on YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, or TikTok, than on Twitter.

For those playing at home, you tap the new Tweet button, then the camera button (as if you were going to take a phone), then slide over to the Live option, add a topic and tap Go Live. This is far too many steps, hence the reason almost nobody does it.

For a platform that prides itself on breaking news, what better way is there to do that than live video. This certainly doesn’t come without challenges in terms of monitoring for explicit or violent content on live streams, but there’s a real opportunity that some of the smartest minds in the AI space, to lend their talents to solving these kinds of problems.

6. Direct purchases

If you’re a brand on Twitter, you can build your audiences and link people off to your online store and buy the product. A better option for all parties would be for the direct purchases through a Tweet to be available, much like an Instagram post.

Sure, if Elon wants to add the option for people to pay in Dogecoin, go right ahead, but lowering the friction between seeing a product and buying that product ultimately benefits the consumer and the business.

Where this transaction occurs on the Twitter platform, there is an opportunity to charge a small fee, creating a new revenue stream for Twitter that could help reduce general advertising on the platform. This could improve the user experience and attack more users globally.

7. Stop the spam

This probably should have been number 1, but it is actually stunning how bad the bot detection is on Twitter. I regularly see multiple accounts post the same content within seconds, this is clearly behaviour created from a bot and not humans and should be easy to detect and mitigate. This has continued for years and no amount of reporting Tweets or accounts appear to help Twitter fight this war.

If you have other suggestions on how the platform could be improved, leave a comment below.

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Jason Cartwright
Jason Cartwrighthttp://techau.com.au/author/jason/
Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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