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.