Writecombination Social Media
by Andrew Knowles

Twitter adds visual conversation threading

Twitter has made it easier to spot, and follow, conversations taking place on the social networking platform. 

Users of Twitter.com and Twitter smartphone apps now see conversations presented as a cluster of two or three tweets connected by a blue line. These conversations appear within your Twitter timeline.

How conversation threads work

Every tweet that’s posted is accompanied by a ‘Reply’ button. When that button is pressed, and a reply tweeted, Twitter begins the process of stitching a conversation together with its new blue thread.

If you don’t press the ‘Reply’ button, Twitter doesn’t know to connect your tweet to the message you are responding to. The ‘Reply’ button in Hootsuite (my preferred application for reading and posting tweets) also creates threaded conversations.

When you post the reply tweet, here’s how the conversation appears in Twitter:

Twitter will only display up to three tweets in a conversation. Once the number of tweets exceeds three, the only tweets displayed are the initial post, along with the last two posts. All those in between are hidden, although Twitter does provide an easy link to them.

In the same way that you can share a tweet with someone over email, you can now share an entire conversation. Simply click the ‘More’ option on the tweet at the end of the conversation and choose ‘Share via email’. This allows you to input an email address that you want to send the entire conversation to.

Curiously, while tweets are usually displayed with the most recent at the top, conversations operate the other way around. The most recent post is displayed at the bottom of the thread.

This approach is prompted some to compare the new Twitter threading feature to Facebook, where comments are listed below an initial post, with the most recent at the bottom.

The benefits of conversation threading

Creating a visual connection between tweets makes it easier to follow a conversation. It can also introduce you to other Twitter users with whom you share a common interest.

The email feature lets you share an interesting conversation with others, even if they’re not on Twitter, and it can be a useful way of keeping a record of the discussion.

Not everyone likes the new threading function, because it fills their timeline with threaded conversations in which they have no interest. 

The easiest way to escape from the blue lines, if you don’t like them, is to use Twitter via a third party application, such as Hootsuite. However, it’s likely that most users will soon get used to the new feature and learn to live with it.





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