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Twitter has been one busy little bird this spring. While Twitter updates are not uncommon, it’s worth noting that this month alone, everyone’s favorite microblogging platform has released four significant updates to various feature sets. Do you know what they are?

If not, here’s what’s new, and why you should take note: 

1. Retweet With Comments

We’re starting with this one because, well, it’s the one we’re most excited about. For years, Twitter users have been working around the inexplicable inability to ‘quote’ tweets on the desktop the same way they could from their mobile devices. On mobile, we have had the choice between retweeting directly (sending someone else’s tweet out to your own users) and tweet quoting (adding your own comments to a tweet’s content). From the desktop, however, the only option was to directly retweet, or copy and paste the content into a new tweet to add your spin. Since nobody has time for that, the release of the new Retweet with Comments feature is a welcome change.

Why this matters: The new interface, which has been rolled out to both mobile and desktop experiences, allows users to choose to add a comment that will show up outside of the original tweet. The best part? Users no longer have to cleverly truncate the original tweet in order to add their own thoughts! Here’s an example, if you haven’t seen it yet:

Retweet with comments

2. New Logged-Out Homepage

For the longest time, if you were to arrive at Twitter’s homepage and not be automatically logged in, you would just see a screen encouraging you to sign up or sign in (with some pretty pictures in the background and some scrolling tweets). The new homepage really drives home the volume and variety of content available on Twitter, and makes a much more compelling case for joining, or becoming active again if you’ve left the flock (bird puns!).

Why this matters: While it might not seem like there is an obvious benefit for social media marketers here, there is. The more engaged, content-hungry users Twitter can acquire, the more people there will be to engage with your own content there.

New Twitter Homepage

3. Direct Message Without Following

This new feature really straddles the line between good and bad. Previously, if a user wanted to send a direct message to another user or to a brand, they had to be following that user AND have that user follow them back. This prevented brands and users alike from being flooded with messages that may or may not have been pleasant. Of course, not everyone who wanted to send a direct message instead of a public tweet had bad intentions, but that was certainly not uncommon. In the new direct message paradigm, however, anyone can DM anyone IF that user’s privacy settings allow for it. Yes, Twitter anticipated the panic around opening up DMs and made this a feature than can be turned on or off in the settings menu.

Why this matters: As a social marketer, you might be hesitant to turn this on, and we don’t blame you. But think about this; if an unhappy customer wants to send you a complaint, wouldn’t you prefer they have the option to do so privately instead of broadcasting it to all of their followers? Now, if that answer seems too cynical to you, then just think about how much more engaging and personal your interactions with happy customers can be when they occur in this one-on-one environment.

Direct Message on Twitter

4. Abuse Policy Update

This one is hot off the presses, folks. Today, Twitter announced that they have updated their policies regarding abusive behavior in order to better protect their users. Without getting into specifics (a quick Google search can do that for you), Twitter has often been used by trolls to harass individuals in some pretty disheartening ways. Much of this is directed at women (though not all), and often features threatening language or calls for others to cause harm. While there has been a lot of pressure on Twitter to better protect users by punishing abusers, Twitter has struggled to find the right way to balance user experience with questions of free speech.

The new policy announced today updates the previous policy (which Twitter’s director of product management called “unduly narrow”) to include not only direct and specific threats, but also “threats of violence against others or promot[ing] violence against others.” There will also be updates on the customer support side that give Twitter more options for how to deal with abusive users (see below)

Why this matters: This step in the right direct is good not only for individuals, but also for brands that benefit from more people feeling safe to join and interact on Twitter. Additionally, if users have or hear about negative experiences on Twitter repeatedly, they could start to have negative feelings around the platform as a whole. And if your brand has a strong presence on Twitter, some of that negativity could become linked with your brand in the users mind.

New Twitter Abuse Options
We’re excited about all of the recent updates to Twitter’s platform, and we’re interested to what else the company has in store for us. What do you think about updates above? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author: Sarah Matista is the Content Marketing Manager at Webs, where she also manages marketing for Pagemodo – a suite of social media tools. Loves social media, branding, whales. Get more from Sarah on Pagemodo’s Blog and Google+.

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