Following up on yesterday’s news of Foursquare’s Solomonic split, I tweeted a joke that Twitter should divide itself into 14 apps.
Several commenters responded with the punchline I missed, that each would allow you to tweet 10 characters. Ha ha.
Well, I’m thinking this joke has a bit of truth to is, that the best way for Twitter to overcome many of its customer acquisition and retention problems is to break from a single app with an overwhelming and confusing feed, to more specialised apps for enjoying the content in different contexts. So here are ten ideas for new Twitter apps, I’m sure you guys can come up with another four in the comments.
1. Dedicated Video App: Twitter owns Vine, which is an incredibly fun and creative video creation and viewing tool. But the vast majority of videos linked in my feed are YouTube or from other sources, and it is unappealing to pop in and out of video viewing while I’m trying to scan my news. Consider an app optimised for video viewing, that would show ranked the top videos linked by anyone you follow and, where possible, show those videos inline.
2. Dedicated Photo App: Just because they missed the boat to buy Instagram, doesn’t mean they need to give up on a rich photo-driven experience. I’d love to see a feed of all the photos from all the people I follow in an optimised viewing app, and by using the existing content the app would have a chance to build a following outside of Instagram.
3. Flipboard-like Reader App: This isn’t an original suggestion by any means, but while the raw feed of Twitter is appealing to information junkies like myself, a friendlier, more aggregated view of the “best” of twitter would likely be more appealing to the casual reader.
4. Direct Messaging App: Well duh. Direct messages are hard to use, hidden, and under-invested within the various Twitter clients. Creating a stand-alone app that uses your @twitter handle would open up opportunities for innovation in messaging. And in response to the obvious question “do we need another messaging app” I’d say that I frequently want to message, and receive messages, from folks based on their Twitter presence even though they aren’t in my phone’s address book.
5. Breaking News App: Twitter is the world’s best place for breaking news, but you wouldn’t experience that as a user unless you frequently updated your feed or checked out the Discover tab. Twitter could create an app that lets you specify the types of news you’re interested in (weather, politics, celebrity) and send an alert on your phone whenever anything interesting happens. No feed, no followers, just alerts about urgent news. Heck, this could be an SMS-only service without even an app.
6. Digg-like News App: Twitter can tell which URLs are trending on the service, as well as which are trending within your follower crowd. They could use this data to create an app of the hottest and most interesting news for browsing, much like Digg or Insider.
7. Personal Quantification App: One of the criticisms of Twitter is that the feed is information overload for casual users. As an information junkie, I actually think the opposite. The vast majority of data I could post to Twitter I don’t because I fear overwhelming my followers with junk. How often do you see Foursquare check-ins posted to Twitter? When FourSquare first launched you would see it all the time, then we all realised how annoying that was downstream. So imagine a “shadow” twitter, where I could post everything I want, then use rules (kind of like IFTTT) to determine which posts got shared with my mainstream feed as well as third party apps to analyse the data and provide insights. You could even hack it in my just automatically giving everyone a second handle. If I’m @aripap, I could start posting right away to @aripap_fullfeed.
8. Twittervision: Twitter likes to boast that it’s the real second screen app used with television. But once again, if you’re watching the Oscars or Mad Men you need to scan the overwhelming feed to find the nuggets of conversation you’re interested in. They should create a Twittervision app that syncs with the local TV schedule and shows you highlights of what’s trending, what people are talking about, etc and lets the casual Twitter user participate in real time.
9. Sports App: This is a no-brainer. People love using Twitter for sports, why can’t you tap in to any game that’s currently happening and read the best tweets, follow the players, talk trash, etc.
10. Customer Service App: Everyone likes complaining on Twitter, why not make it easier? Let the user find the official handle for thousands of companies that respond to complaints on Twitter and send them messages directly with an assurance they will get a response. This also helps the companies, since it might avoid or reduce the amount of public feed complaining.
If your first reaction to some of the ideas above is “but you could use hashtags” or “you can do that with lists,” I think you’re missing the point. In the mobile environment consumers want clean, easy-to-use, single focus apps. Twitter is challenged simply because the app is so useful for so many different circumstances that it ends up alienating those that only want one.
Ari Paparo is the EVP of Product Management at Bazaarvoice. You can follow him on Twitter at @aripap.
NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.