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Twitter's Custom Timelines: What It Means for Content Marketing

by Hana Abaza  |  
November 15, 2013

On Tuesday, Twitter announced the release of custom timelines.  Now, you can create a timeline that includes select tweets about a topic, event, or breaking news so people can follow along. You can choose a name for your custom timeline, and it will live on its own public Twitter page.

Before you get too excited, there are a couple of caveats. First, the feature is available only via Tweetdeck. Second, although there is an API for custom timelines, it's still in beta.

Regardless, the ability to cherry-pick tweets and put them into a timeline that is tailor-made for your audience is exciting. For instance, custom timelines can be used for ongoing Q&As and as companion content for media, and it can be used by brands that are establishing themselves as thought leaders around a particular topic. Here's a great example of a custom timeline created by Carson Daly as a way to curate tweets about The Voice.

Twitter has essentially taken something that people are doing anyway (using the platform to converse around news, events, etc.)—and made it better.

What's more exciting is the indication toward a larger trend in social media and content marketing that emphasizes targeted content streams for specific audiences and buyer personas. Simply put, advanced content aggregation can have a major impact on how companies converse with their audience. Twitter's move is a step in that direction by allowing us to organize tweets in a way that makes sense to the people consuming them.

In reality, we've barely scratched the surface. As we move into 2014, companies will find ways to organize all of their content (social, blogs, photos, videos, etc.) into easily digestible, topically relevant content streams that can live anywhere.

For example, Storify allows users to curate tweets to tell a story around a product or brand (it remains to be seen how the release of Twitter's new custom collections will affect Storify). Taking it a step beyond Twitter, Uberflip lets you create "custom collections" where you can pull in tweets, blog posts, videos, and more into one personalized content stream for a specific segment of your audience. Here's an example of a custom collection build around a campaign targeted toward HubSpot users.

All this is in line with the future of content marketing. People are tired of wading through content they don't care about. What they want is meaningful content. And what brands and publishers need is a way to organize and target it effectively.

Accordingly, now more than ever before, companies have to truly understand their audience in order to succeed in social and content marketing. The better you know your audience, the more customized your content creation and the more targeted your content streams.

The other element to note is curation. Though social media is already a powerful place to curate content,  the rise in content aggregation tools provided by Twitter, Uberflip, Storify, and others makes curation easier, which means it can become a larger part of an overarching content marketing strategy. By consolidating content that you create with content from other credible sources, you can provide a holistic view of a topic for your audience.

This has the potential to be a win-win scenario. People consuming content get more of what they care about, while brands can present the content they're creating—and curating—in a very targeted way to an audience that is more likely to convert into leads and eventually customers.

Learn more about how to use custom timelines and read the official Twitter announcement.

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Hana Abaza is vice-president of marketing at Uberflip, a provider of content marketing, curation, and publishing software.

Twitter: @hanaabaza

LinkedIn: Hana Abaza

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  • by Steve Sonn Fri Nov 15, 2013 via blog

    Thanks Hana. This is an informative post and I like the move to custom timelines by Twitter. One of the challenges for brands using Twitter is that tweets can get lost in a sea of information very quickly. This move will help by allowing easier aggregation of key content that we would like to highlight for a longer period. I'm looking forward to working with the timelines feature when it's fully released. Thanks again.

  • by Hana Fri Nov 15, 2013 via blog

    Thanks Steve! Totally agree - helping brands highlight specific content that gives audiences what they need / want will ultimately help us filter through the noise.

  • by Fatemeh Fri Nov 15, 2013 via blog

    Hey, Hana!

    The custom timelines are NOT only available on Tweetdeck. I made the same mistake by reading Mashable's posts, which insinuated this.

    Here's Twitter's official how-to on embeddable timelines:

    Thanks for your post! It's interesting to see where the major players will take content curation.

  • by Tracy Sun Nov 17, 2013 via blog

    So Fatemeh is incorrect. The ability to embed Favorites and lists has always been there, under widgets, as Fatemeh has suggested. What's new is creating a Custom Timeline which has a unique URL and can be embedded on your site. It is currently only available via TweetDeck as Hana said. The idea behind Custom Timeline is that it allows you to organize tweets in the way you'd like them to appear. Think about the #SFBATKID story last week in San Francisco. So many people tweeting about it. But now SF Make A Wish Foundation can curate and organize them in a way to tell a compelling story. (Similar to how relayed the story).

  • by Hana Mon Nov 18, 2013 via blog

    Thanks Tracey! You beat me to this :)

    The decision to role it out through Tweetdeck is an interesting one... would love to hear your thoughts about this.

    Good idea? Alienating? Compelling enough to create a Tweetdeck account if you're using something else now?

    Would love some feedback here!

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