Understanding events beyond the ticker-tape headlines is all about understanding context. Microblogging platform Twitter announced Monday that it will soon be easier to find that context beyond its 140-character word strings, with a new feature called Related Headlines that offers the story behind the tweet. The headline of a related article and Twitter account will show up on the tweet's permalink page.
Twitter platform services engineer Brian Wallerstein made the announcement in a Monday blog post. Viewers will get a clickable list of sources where they can find more information about a particular tweet. For every tweet, after all, helps users find more information about newsmaker triumphs and tragedies, sports, politics, as well as world and national unrest.
With nearly one in five American Internet users now on Twitter, according to a Pew survey of online adults, the feature is intended for readers who would appreciate being able to just click through to longer-form stories.
Wallerstein said Twitter was launching the Related Headlines section on the permalink page of tweets that have been embedded on websites. "It lists and links to websites where the tweet was embedded, making it easier to discover stories that provide more context." Twitter noted the links to articles where tweets are embedded will appear only on the permalink pages of the embedded tweets.
To show the feature in action, Wallerstein used the story of high-profile NBA player Jason Collins, who recently made a personal announcement, as an example. Along with his tweet were links to stories that appeared on nine different websites including ESPN, Fox Sports, and Mashable.
While it is easy to see how users can enjoy the bigger-picture view with clicks to related stories, business watchers can well ask, besides user delight, what's in it for Twitter?
This appears to be a smart way for Twitter, as a breaking-news resource, to weave itself right into the publishing world as a must-have companion.
Twitter is essentially saying the service can now go two ways. And as the saying goes -- one hand washes the other. In this instance Twitter's extended reach becomes the extended reach of the publishers as well. Advantages flow back and forth.
The feature gives incentives to publications and authors to add tweets to their stories, knowing the links may get picked up. By integrating headlines of articles, the pulse of any given story is continued.
Publishers, by now adjusting to the fact that they exist in a digital world, can anticipate the extra traffic sent their way from the social network.
Interestingly, a related Twitter blog on its developer site addressed publishers. "Today we're rolling out a new feature for publishers using embedded tweets that connects articles about the tweet with the tweet itself. When you embed tweets in your content, the headline of your article and Twitter account will be surfaced on the Tweet's permalink page for all to see."
The blog made a direct appeal: "We think this will help more people discover the larger story behind the tweet, drive clicks to your articles, and help grow your audience on Twitter. Publishers that are already using embedded tweets are in the first group to have their article headlines surfaced."
The blog post added, "We're excited to bring headlines to more publishers and embedded tweet partners in the coming weeks, so if you're interested in participating please let us know."
The "please let us know" directs publishers to a live link where they can sign up to participate in the Twitter Headlines program.