It was only in reading some of this coverage that my thoughts around Twitter’s hashtag brand pages began to finally coalesce.
If you visit Twitter.com/#NASCAR you’re taken not to a random string of search results for “#nascar” but to a slickly arranged and curated page that’s been professionally built to include a mix of updates from select drivers and other handles. The page was reportedly built by Twitter itself without input from NASCAR and may be the first of future pages that are built not for brands, it says, but around events.
While that may be true it’s easy to see this expanding as another advertising product that’s offered by Twitter to select brands who want to own a brand-specific hashtag or search term and have the resulting page be more engaging. That is, after all, the overall goal of Twitter itself when it comes to attracting new and lapsed users and has been the point of recent redesigns and reconfigurations. And if companies are looking for ways to present a more professional image on social media this would be a no-brainer.
How, then, is the news of Twitter’s new product (which, if it really was done without NASCAR’s input, raises some interesting copyright questions) related to Apple news narratives? If Twitter does take the next logical step and start offering this sort of thing as an advertising product it presents a clear threat to services such as Storify that are based around the curation of tweets and other updates.
No these are not 100% comparable in terms of purpose or functionality. Storify is meant to bring in updates from a wide variety of people into a single “Story” that shows Tweets, Flickr photos, Foursquare check-ins and more. Twitter’s hashtag pages are just Twitter updates (though they may of course include check-ins, photos and more). But while there may be some missing features Twitter’s offering is likely to be a “good enough” option that is actually more attractive because of it being an official product of Twitter and the control it would hypothetically offer. And that may be enough to pose a serious challenge to other similar applications and services.