Twitter has announced the addition two major elements to its interface: An @User tab and an Activity tab. Also new: Twitter now lets you tweet to any user from their profile page. These new features will give users a broader perspective on what's going on in the Twitterverse while giving further opportunities for user engagement and interconnection.
The Two New Tabs & 'Tweet To' Feature
The first tab is @User, and will be displayed in each user's interface as @[TheirUserName]. This tab is replacing @Mentions and, as outlined by TechCrunch, will "show your @replies, [...] when someone follows you, when someone favorites one of your Tweets, when someone retweets one of your Tweets, or when someone adds you to a list."
The second column is somewhat similar: It shows you a stream of the non-tweeting activities that those you're following are doing, right as they're doing them. This means that when a user follows someone, re-tweets something, or favorites a tweet, those following them will have a chance of hearing about it.
One other feature quietly introduced yesterday: When you visit any user's Twitter profile, you can now send a tweet to that user directly from their page, ReadWriteWeb reported. It looks like this:
The Implications for User Engagement
Twitter is in sync with its history of mimicking third-party services who found ways to better engage with users. Services ranging from TweetDeck to Favstar and well beyond have implemented features that attempted to make more out of connections and on-Twitter actions. Twitter's version, however, accesses a lot of data that had previously been invisible.
How will this impact users? Well, Twitter was never exactly short on things to look at; adding a new stream may just clutter up the site for some people, and that's likely to get a lot of complaints. That said, Twitter and users are both gaining a lot. For one, the new visibility of the "add to favorites" action means that Twitter is essentially getting a like button.
The announcement of who's following who, as well as the new "Tweet to" feature, will also provide an extra way for people to connect, and may be a great asset to brands who want a viral spread of their presence. The announcement of friends liking a page on Facebook has been a great mechanic that businesses can leverage, and this change opens up the same opportunities.