Will New Visual Tweets Alienate Twitter Users?

Tuesday Twitter announced new visual enhancements with images and videos from Vine visible right in the stream. According to the announcement, this addition is intended to make the Twitter stream more engaging.

“So many of the great moments you share on Twitter are made even better with photos or with videos from Vine,” reads the official blog post. “We want to make it easier for everyone to experience those moments on Twitter.”

This seems like a smart move given the recent findings by the Adobe Digital Index, which indicated that posts with images and video produced the highest level of engagement. With Twitter’s current accelerated growth path adding images and videos to the Twitter stream could make make the maturing social network a more powerful marketing platform.

While this may be a great optimization for marketers, not everyone sees this as a good idea. Gigaom contributor Michael Ingram says that the thinly veiled appeal to advertisers, billed as a way to make it easier for friends to enjoy your videos and photos, could alienate as many users as it attracts money.

Indeed, part of Twitter’s beauty has always been in it’s simplicity. Over the years the various changes and updates have made the micro-blogging site a noisy place. This, Ingram says, follows the natural development of the web, wherein sites seem to go from text heavy to image laden and ugly.

“Twitter is also arguably in more danger of suffering from what some call the MySpace effect (an excess of ads and gaudy images) than some other services because until fairly recently it was such a stripped-down, text-heavy experience,” Ingram warns. “Then along came expanded tweets or Twitter “cards,” and the writing was on the wall.”

The time for Twitter to become a real business beyond being supported by venture capital investments is long overdue. And with the race to see which social networking platform will be the best place for marketers to connect with consumers, perhaps alienating it’s users is a risk Twitter has to take.

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