Twitter: The Real-Time Network, Real-Delayed

In the world of social media, news is fleeting. While relevance used to be discussed in terms of hours or days, it’s now measured in 140-character snippets and disappears as quickly as it was developed. While tracking the latest trends, news and opinions in real-time seems to be a growing concern for businesses, how relevant is this information after the fact? Is it necessary or even desirable to review this information days later? How long does relevancy last in our fast-paced world?

On May 14, Twitter announced in a blog post that it will begin sending a weekly email digest to its users. The email will feature “the most relevant Tweets and stories shared by the people you’re connected to on Twitter,” only it will arrive a week after the information is first published.

When Twitter was founded in 2006, it established itself as a real-time information network.  Now, six years later the company is taking a step backwards with the launch of its weekly email digests. The announcement was an unprecedented move for the company, whose sole focus had been on its instant-update capabilities.

It is possible that Twitter is trying to reengage its users that no longer use the social network on a daily basis and renew interest in the medium for those who signed on but never fully engaged. Users who don’t regularly check their Twitter feed miss a large amount of information that would take hours of scrolling to catch up on. Twitter’s weekly emails will provide a recap of the user’s top stories and tweets in one location, demonstrating the value of its service to less active users. The new emails will also feature Tweets from accounts that users don’t follow, but that their friends follow. The objective is for users to discover new accounts to further expand their network.

Within a few weeks, all Twitter users will receive the weekly email digests. Whether or not users will choose to embrace or loathe (receive or unsubscribe) these emails will be up to the individual.

So what does this mean for marketers? Will even more energy be put into engaging with Twitter follows in order to appear in a weekly Twitter email? Marketers will need to figure out if the appearance would prove worthy of their efforts, as it is still early to tell if users will stick with their email subscriptions.