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Custom Timelines bring focus to sharing on Twitter

The launch of custom timelines by Twitter last week initially had us scratching our heads. ‘Isn’t it just like Lists’? was the main thought, but within 10 minutes or so we’d fired up Tweetdeck to play around with the new functionality  and come up with half-a-dozen ideas that we’ll be using with some of our clients.

Twitter Lists is a great tool for bringing a collection of people together and parking the feed somewhere off to the right of your screen. I have Lists for journalists, pro athletes connected to my client, and a small number of news feeds relevant to my day-to-day work, but these often become congested with irrelevant commentary and conversations outside of the topic I’m really interested in.

Custom Timelines goes some way to fixing this by allowing you to drag-and-drop just the tweets you want into their own feed. And while you’ll need access to the Twitter API to automate the process we still think there are some useful ways to utilise the new feature manually – first up, it’s all about sharing.

Socially native businesses have the opportunity to build a fantastic group of brand advocates and influencers but to really take advantage of this valuable content requires visibility which can be difficult to achieve on a busy twitter feed. By embedding a Custom Timeline featuring advocates and influencers onto a homepage, a brand can pick out the real highlights of their social activity which helps reinforce their overall messaging; leaving behind the nitty-gritty (but still important) customer service-type tweets.

If you’re a community manager and you’ve ever run a competition via Twitter then you’ll know that you can quickly get lost in a sea of mentions, retweets and favourites. What seemed like a great idea at 4pm yesterday has completely taken over your feed by 9am this morning, and no matter how much you try to control the method of entry you’ll still find users often missing out a vital hashtag, or users failing to attach a necessary image with their entry.

With Custom Timelines you can easily drag-and-drop valid entries into their own feed for ease of picking a winner, while also providing an engaging feed for participants to view on your website or at twitter.com to help generate even more activity.

Being able to show clients some of the fantastic conversations generated around their brand on Twitter has often been about screenshots, links in emails, flicking between tabbed browsers and saying ‘did you see that tweet from ‘celebrity A’ last night?’ But now we can curate a feed to showcase the enormous value that a great twitter strategy can bring to any brand.

If you manage a community then you’ll not only be looking at the latest trends in social media but also ways to help streamline your workflow. As automated Custom Timelines is only available via the Twitter API we think there’ll be a slow uptake from community managers initially but it’s certainly one to keep an eye on.