Curate and share stories in custom timelines on Twitter

Hot on the heels of its stock market debut last week, Twitter launched a new feature yesterday that lets you create timelines of tweets and share that curated content across the social web.

Called custom timelines, the new feature is enabled in an update to TweetDeck, the dashboard app that lets you manage multiple Twitter accounts with views into conversations via multiple columns. TweetDeck is a long-time favourite of power users.

Introducing Custom Timelines

If you’re a fan of Storify, the concept of custom timelines will be familiar to you. Storify is a web service that lets you create and curate stories and timelines using content published not only on Twitter but also on other social channels such as Facebook and Instagram.

It’s a hugely popular tool that gives you a record of tweets, status updates, snapshots and more, the kinds of things people create and post during an event, for instance.

Such content in timelines offer glimpses and insights into the informal, often spontaneous and usually authentic opinions of people as they experience something that they share online.

It’s very easy to understand how to use custom timelines, so creating one is quite straightforward as I discovered when I created my first one: tweets in an informal tweetchat that complemented “Is the Social Business Gold Rush Over?“, a webinar discussion organized by Our Social Times that I logged into yesterday.

Twitter’s announcement post is a good guide on how to create custom timelines in TweetDeck. The Next Web also has a useful guide.

And here is the custom timeline I created, an embed I created via the widgets tool in my Twitter account on the web around the webinar hashtag #socbiz2013:

All the tweets are arranged chronologically: that’s how it came out, not how I chose it. That seems to be the only display choice at the moment.

You manage how you share your custom timeline via TweetDeck, from where you initiate the procedure to create an embed widget, view the timeline in your Twitter account on the web, and tweet about it.

Share custom timeline

The new feature is available now in an updated version of TweetDeck for Windows (that’s the one I use), and I heard it’s also already rolled out on TweetDeck Chrome. A Mac version is coming soon, Twitter says.

I can see Twitter custom timelines – they need to come up with a snappier, memorable name for this – proving popular in the same way Storify has. Indeed, I think this will present a significant challenge to Storify as it offers another option to Twitter users that is part of the Twitter ecosystem and easily usable from within a Twitter app.

It doesn’t have the wider customization ability as Storify does – only sorts tweets chronologically, for instance; no adding notes about individual content – but I think it will get strong take-up among power users.

Twitter custom timelines also offer something quite interesting that will be of distinct interest to the more tech-minded users: the custom timelines API beta:

[...] This new API will open up interesting opportunities, such as programming your custom timelines based on the logic that you choose, or building tools that help people create their own custom timelines, as TweetDeck does.

In sum, by adding custom timelines as an interesting and useful new feature to its service that will encourage wide sharing of content by users, Twitter is aiming to increase its visibility across the social web to gain greater awareness and, ultimately, more users and more opportunities for advertising exposure.

Twitter’s debut on the New York Stock Exchange last week (stock market symbol: TWTR) is a milestone in the evolution of a simple text-messaging tool that, in seven years, has grown to be a significant and influential part of the contemporary mainstream. Take a look at its updated About pages.

Looks like Twitter means business.

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