Technology

Twitter to Event Planners: Build Your Own Timeline

By / Nov 14, 2013 Twitter's new curated timeline functionality, as shown on Politico's website.

Twitter’s launch of its curated timelines platform this week could be a boon to event planners, but be sure it’s the tool that best meets your needs.

Want a little more control over the content you’re sharing at your next event? Twitter’s already working on it.

This week, the company launched its custom timelines, which allow users to create a curated list of tweets, rather than simply relying on hashtags or favorited tweets to do the trick.

About the product: Twitter’s new custom timelines functionality works in tandem with the company’s TweetDeck platform, allowing users to pick and choose on-message tweets in a hand-curated timeline. From there, users can share the timelines as links viewable within the Twitter web interface, embedded on websites, or through TweetDeck. The timeline interface will have its own API, which could make the platform much more flexible over time. “This new API will open up interesting opportunities, such as programming your custom timelines based on the logic that you choose, or building tools that help people create their own custom timelines, as TweetDeck does,” the company’s Brian Ellin notes. Among the platform’s early users are major media brands, including Politico and NBC’s The Voice.

The perks for planners: While hashtags have long been important tools for tracking events, event planners have struggled with their weaknesses. For example, if a hashtag gets spammed or taken over by unrelated chatter, there previously was no way to moderate the discussion to focus it for your users. And using third-party interfaces to embed multiple tweets—common on news websites, for example—can be time-consuming. Custom timelines could make life easier for those curating live social events. Some voices in the meetings industry, such as the Event Manager Blog, have already expressed excitement about that prospect.

Competition already out there: That said, Twitter’s custom timelines may not necessarily be the best option for you, depending on where your social presence lies and the scale of the event. The new functionality comes at a time when a number of companies are already working in this space, such as Storify (a social storytelling tool that was recently acquired by the commenting platform Livefyre) and RebelMouse (a more automated, Pinterest-style take on social curation that recently raised a $10.2 million venture capital round). Due to Twitter’s own inward-looking nature, these platforms offer more options for curating than Twitter does, but Twitter’s sheer size and ubiquity makes the platform one to keep a close eye on. (The new feature seems to be getting a warmer reaction than some of the company’s other recent feature launches, for what it’s worth.) Twitter’s tool may also be a good option in a pinch as well.

How could you see yourself using the timeline functionality for your own social efforts? Let us know your take in the comments.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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