Twitter and Facebook want to trade places with each other, as we’ve noted before, which is why the two companies continue borrowing features from one another. In the latest chapter of this social rivalry, Twitter is reportedly testing a major redesign to its user profiles that would make it look a lot like, well, Facebook.
On Tuesday, Mashable’s assistant features editor Matt Petronzio reported a big update to his Twitter profile page, which swapped a vertical column of tweets and user information for a “floating card” structure that resembles Facebook’s Timeline profiles, which were introduced in late 2011. Google has been similarly accused of copying Facebook’s user profile design for Google+.
It’s not uncommon for Twitter to roll out experimental features to select groups of users before releasing a major update to the public. But even if these features never see the light of day—it’s only “testing” this redesign, after all—Twitter users should probably brace themselves for further changes that stress visuals over the company’s traditional emphasis on text.
Now that its shares are publicly traded on the stock market, Twitter faces intense scrutiny from investors on a regular basis. At its first-ever earnings call earlier this month, Twitter admitted slow growth despite increasing revenues, and investors promptly hammered the stock down 25%. (It’s since recovered a bit.) So the company is now charged with finding new ways to retain and expand its online audience.
Last month, Twitter rolled out an update to make its desktop client look more like its mobile counterpart. Before that, Twitter overhauled its messaging platform and updated its search functionality to include a new “Discover” section on the mobile site. Twitter has been swift about releasing these updates over the past few months, so the company could move quickly with these redesigned user profiles, especially since they’re already in the news cycle.
See also: 2013: The Year Social Media Went Copycat
But new user profiles on Twitter, should they happen, would only be the latest chapter in the ongoing tale of mass convergence in the social sphere. As we reflected late last year, Facebook, Google+, Twitter and Pinterest are all more similar than they are different, especially when it comes to user features. And as these major platforms develop, they continue to copycat features from one another just to keep up with users’ changing social tastes.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone if Twitter rolls out Facebook-looking profiles; as my colleague Matt Asay noted yesterday, Twitter wants to be more like Facebook (for its approachability with casual users), and has been willing to make changes to become a friendlier service, even if it never becomes a hub for friends to congregate online, which is how Facebook succeeds.
Redesigned user profiles wouldn’t change the way people use Twitter, but it might make the platform look more familiar to Facebook and Google+ users—since their profile pages look nearly identical—and thus more approachable to new users. Twitter would also enjoy some additional exposure from the news cycle by implementing these changes—you’re welcome, Twitter—even if the new profile designs are far from innovative or “new.” Plus, it would be a good way to get back at Facebook for introducing hashtags last year.
Lead image courtesy of Reuters