Twitter recently introduced a new feature called custom timelines, which are similar to Twitter lists except that you create them using tweets of your own choosing.
“Custom timelines are an entirely new type of timeline – one that you create. You name it, and choose the Tweets you want to add to it,” stated Twitter’s announcement regarding the new feature.
Custom Timeline Details
Users create timelines by selecting tweets from different columns — home, interactions, mentions, lists — and from various accounts based on keywords, hashtags, topics, or any other criteria. Custom timelines can be embedded into websites and are publicly viewable on Twitter.com via their own URL. Each timeline is identified by a title and 160-character description. As new tweets are added, they appear at the top of the timeline.
The only drawback is that you have to use TweetDeck, an application owned by Twitter, to create custom timelines. TweetDeck is available through the web or via Mac and Chrome apps. A desktop version is available for Windows users.
Difference Between Custom Timelines and Twitter Lists
At first, custom timelines may appear no different than the infrequently used Twitter lists feature. The main distinction is that lists target Twitter users, while custom timelines focus on content.
Lists are created by adding Twitter users and little control can be exerted over what content appears. With custom timelines you curate the content that you want to appear, adding and removing Tweets to suit your liking.
How to Create Custom Timelines
Custom timelines are easy to create and require only a few steps.
Select and click on the Custom Timeline column icon from the left-hand column.
Click the blue “Create custom timeline” from the pop-up window that appears.
Add a title and description to identify the topic and related content.
Add content to the new column.
This can be done using the “Move” icon that appears under each tweet when it is moused over. Click the icon and drag the tweet into the new column.
Alternatively, you can select “Add to custom timeline” from the drop-down menu.
Share the custom timeline.
Sharing is where the real value to custom timelines comes in. For example, collecting a group of customer reviews about a particular product might serve as a useful addition to that product’s page on your ecommerce site.
Custom timelines can be shared in one of three ways:
- Embed the timeline on your website;
- View it on Twitter.com;
- Tweet about the timeline.
Remove tweets from the timeline. You can easily delete tweets from the timeline by selecting the “X” located in the list of icons that appear under each tweet when moused over. You can also delete the timeline itself by clicking “Delete timeline.”
7 Ways Merchants Can Use Custom Timelines
Merchants can use custom timelines in a variety of ways. Here are seven ideas to get you started.
- New products. Tweet about new products that you add to your store, then curate those in a custom timeline, which you can share via Twitter or embed on the home page of your website.
- Sales and promotions. Tweeting about seasonal sales or special promotions? Create a timeline to collect them. This holiday season is the perfect time to take advantage of the new feature.
- Hashtags. Hashtags are a common Twitter convention. If you associate hashtags with products, for example, collate the best tweets from customers into a timeline.
- Customer reviews. Collect customer product review tweets into a custom timeline, which you embed on your website.
- FAQs. Create a timeline consisting of frequently asked questions or responses to customer inquiries.
- Twitter chat. Custom timelines are a good way to curate tweets from a recent Twitter chat. Alternatively, you could host a live question and answer session on Twitter, then pull together the best tweets into a timeline.
- Customer testimonials. Another Twitter feature is “Favorites,” which merchants sometimes use to collect customer testimonials. Custom timelines are a good way to showcase the best of those.
Twitter continually adds new features to increase its utility and functionality. In spite of the requirement to use TweetDeck, custom timelines are a unique feature that merchants can benefit from.