In a serendipitous moment for Twitter, the microblogging site announced two new features—group direct messages and native video sharing—on Tuesday as Facebook and Instagram fended off reports that hackers had infiltrated their systems after their services were knocked offline for parts of Monday night.
Twitter officially introduced the two new features in a blog post. With group direct messaging, users will be able to chat privately with more than one individual through Twitter's service. And with native video sharing, users will be able to upload their video content directly to Twitter, bypassing third-party video hosts. Twitter's app now includes a video "camera" and editing functions.
The company also recently introduced a feature that recaps top tweets users might have missed.
While other services have lured new users with advanced features, Twitter has not changed much since its introduction in 2006. Likewise, since the service has basically its own language, the barrier to entry remains high. These and other factors have conspired to hamper Twitter's once-meteoric growth, especially when compared to fast-growing networks such as Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest. Despite growing its user base in 2014, views per monthly active users actually decreased on Twitter in Q3, a bad sign in an industry where engagement means everything.
The microblogging site has acknowledged and begun to address its slowing growth and engagement as of late, with CEO Dick Costolo telling analysts in October that it is "more critical than ever that we increase the pace of [product and idea] execution."
For communications professionals, its imperative to stay abreast of Twitter's evolution and to put the new features they introduce to good use.
Follow Brian Greene on Twitter: @bw_greene