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Published: Thursday, 4/10/2014 - Updated: 4 months ago

Twitter adds Web tweaks, hopes to lure new users

Facebook-like change aims to expand appeal

ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK — As Twitter Inc. looks to broaden its appeal beyond its 241 million users, the company is introducing a redesign of profile pages that includes bigger photos, more user controls, and a distinct resemblance to Facebook.

“Moment by moment, your Twitter profile shows the world who you are,” the company wrote in a blog post. “Starting today, it will be even easier [and, we think, more fun] to express yourself through a new and improved Web profile.”

As part of changes coming in the next few weeks, users who access Twitter via the Web will notice larger photos on their profile pages. Besides profile photos on the left corner of the page, the redesign includes a large banner photo that resembles the big rectangular cover photos on Facebook pages. Users will be able to “pin” one of their tweets to the top of the page to give others an idea of the topics they like to tweet about. In addition, tweets that receive the most interest from other users will appear slightly larger.

The more visual look is an attempt to attract people who may be intimidated by Twitter’s onslaught of text filled with quirky acronyms, at-symbols, and hashtags. The changes come at a time when Facebook is adding features that are Twitterlike as the two companies jockey for people’s time and advertisers’ dollars.

Is Twitter saying a picture is worth 140 characters? Perhaps not. The new profiles don’t apply to Twitter’s mobile app, which is a more popular way to access the service. Mobile is also where Twitter earns most of its money. EMarketer expects about 77 percent of Twitter’s estimated $1.1 billion in advertising revenue to come from mobile this year.

Even so, Twitter acknowledged that it needs to reach a bigger audience. CEO Dick Costolo described the effort in broad terms during the company’s February earnings call with analysts.

“By bringing the content of Twitter forward and pushing the scaffolding of the language of Twitter to the background,” Mr. Costolo said, “we can increase high quality interactions and make it more likely that new or casual users will find the service as indispensable as our existing core users do.”

Mr. Costolo also promised more visually engaging content, of which the profile page redesign is just one example. Last fall, the company decided to make users’ feeds more visual by including previews from Twitter photos and Vine videos.

Twitter added just 9 million new monthly users in the fourth quarter, only 1 million of whom came from the United States. It added an average of 16 million new accounts in each of the first three quarters of 2013.

Twitter said in February that it had 241 million users at the end of 2013. Facebook boasts some 1.23 billion users, while WhatsApp, the messaging service Facebook is buying for $19 billion, said it had 400 million active monthly users.



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