Twitter looks to get more interactive with expanded tweets

Users can see more previews, links and video from desktop or mobile devices

Twitter is updating its "expanded tweets" feature, giving users more previews, images and videos from a growing list of news outlets.

The micro-blogging site announced on Wednesday that it's trying to make the site more interactive for people using a desktop or a mobile device. "You've probably expanded tweets before to play videos from YouTube or see photos from Instagram," Michael Sippey, director of Twitter's product team, wrote in a blog post. "Now, a diverse and growing group of new partners like the the Wall Street Journal, MSNBC's Breaking News, and TIME also deliver rich content inside tweets containing a link to those Web sites."

Sippey noted that when a user expands a tweet about a news article from the San Francisco Chronicle, for example, they can see a preview with the story's headline and introduction, along with possibly the Twitter accounts of the publisher and the writer. Users then can click to read the article or follow an account, reply or favorite the tweet.

Users also will be able to watch snippets and video from some television shows, like Drop Dead Diva on the Lifetime network.

This should be good news for Twitter and for Twitter users, according to Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research.

"Easier is better. Faster is better. Less hassle is always better," he said. "A lot of tweets are comments on online content. Making it easier to see [that content] will help the user. And what helps the user, the writer and the reader, helps Twitter."

All of this user interaction should make Twitter stickier, keeping users on the site longer.

And that would help Twitter continue its momentum.

Earlier this month, a report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project showed that Twitter may not be gaining new U.S. users as fast as it used to, but the users it has are much more engaged.

This past February, about 15% of U.S. adult Internet users use Twitter, the report noted. That number is slightly up from the 13% who said they used Twitter in May 2011. And that figure was up from 8% who used Twitter in November 2010.

However, the report also showed that while new user growth is slowing for Twitter, the percentage of engaged users is climbing.

According to the Pew study, 8% of Twitter users are actively engaged with the site on a typical day, a number that has doubled since May 2011 and quadrupled since late 2010 when only 2% of online adults used Twitter on a typical day.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at  @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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