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Twitter to boost online voting and video with new tools

HTLS2015 Updated: Nov 25, 2015 11:30 IST
HT Correspondent


Microblogging service Twitter, which has emerged as the prime internet platform for politicians, policymakers and journalists across the world to break, share and discuss news and build public opinion, is ready with new innovations that will help instant polls and easy reading of linked content.

“You’ll see us continue to innovate and get more voices on the platform,” Katie Jacobs Stanton, the San Francisco-based company’s vice-president for global media and head of international strategy, told HT in an interview last weekend at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, where she took part in a panel discussion on whether social media was a threat to big media.

“We have something called the Twitter Card. Embedded in a tweet you can actually interact. You can vote. You can do a poll,” she said.

Twitter Cards is a broad initiative under which users can attach rich photos, videos and media to tweets to help drive traffic to websites. This is done by adding HTML code to web pages. The poll is an additional feature that is being added.

Watch: The all-new Twitter features to watch out for: Vice president Katie Jacobs Stanton

The 44-year-old Jacobs Stanton, who refers to the Twitter timeline as the “social soundtrack of news,” said more innovations were being introduced to help make content richer.

“Not only can you be able to share a tweet but also photo and increasingly video. Video is something we will be investing over the next two months,” she said. Twitter acquired short-form video service Vine in 2012.

Jacobs Stanton earlier worked for the State Department, and was the White House’s first director of citizen participation who introduced the US Presidency to Twitter.

“India’s been an amazing market for the past couple of years,” she said, referring to the domestic T20, elections and Bollywood among key factors driving chatter on Twitter. She said India was being developed as a key market through initiatives such as a personalized reply tweet from cricket star Sachin Tendulkar

India’s market has strong potential because even those using 2G telephony services can access Twitter through a special number, she said.

“Twitter was actually born on SMS. You don’t have to have a smartphone to be able to tweet,” she said. For Indian readers hit by poor bandwidth, Twitter also has a product called Quick Reader, which enables users to see text linked to a web link without visiting the site.

“The content is cached. The content is embedded in there so you don’t miss out on the news,” Jacobs Stanton said.

The internet industry association estimates India’s internet users to cross 300 million in December, up from 213 million a year earlier. Twitter does not officially disclose its India user base . Internet researcher eMarketers estimates the figure at 18 million by the year-end.

India has close to 800 million mobile phone users, and about 500 million users will still be outside the Net at the end of the year.