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How to Use Twitter’s New Timelines

If there’s a new social media trend out there, you can bet Bridget Willard is in front of her screen checking it out. Willard is all over Twitter’s newest feature, the custom timeline.

Willard turned to social media when the economy crumbled as a way to generate new customers for her employer, Riggins Construction, and is now the go-to social media whiz for the 36-year-old company, which does commercial construction in Orange County, California. She’s using Twitter’s new timelines to attract new customers and engage with current ones.

Twitter’s new timeline feature gives users more control over how their tweets are organized and offers some creative alternatives to simply posting to your feed and watching your tweets quickly disappear into the swirling current of handles and hashtags.

Twitter users can create, title and describe a custom timeline. Each timeline gets its own Twitter page and can also be embedded on your website or blog. For example, if you want to create a separate timeline that focuses on one specific subject or newsworthy event, you can. Think of it more like a Pinterest board; it’s a place to group pieces of information that’s more visual than hashtagging.

“The best thing about the Twitter timeline is that it increases the lifespan of your tweet,” Willard says. “Right now, a tweet has a shorter lifespan than a housefly. In a separate timeline your tweet won’t get buried nearly as fast.”

If you want to dabble with this new feature, start by checking out Twitter’s instructions and then experiment with Willard’s ideas below to get the most out of the new timelines.

Idea #1: Highlight positive feedback

One way to use the Twitter custom timeline for your business: create a “kudos timeline.” Every time you get a shout out or a compliment on your product or service, highlight the customer feedback on a separate timeline.

“Customer feedback is a powerful thing,” Willard says. “When you get some positive tweets, you want to keep those around for a while. If you leave them in your Twitter feed, they’ll get buried. Create a separate timeline for them instead.”

Every time a new positive tweet comes in, just move it to your “kudos timeline.” Think of this customizable timeline as your mantelpiece. It’s where you display your Twitter trophies.

Idea #2: Create timelines for specific topics

The new timeline feature makes tracking topics or subjects easier. Group conversations on Twitter—commonly referred to as tweet chats—typically rely on the group’s use of a hashtag, which can make following the thread challenging and not all that visual. Now users can all post to one timeline, which makes the conversation easier to follow than sifting through streams of hashtag-riddled tweets, Willard says.

“All the tweets are in one place,” she says. “It’s a great organizational tool.”

For example, Willard created a timeline at Riggins that focuses on social media tips for small businesses.

Idea #3: Embed a timeline on your website

Twitter makes it easy to embed timelines on your website or blog, Willard says. To do so, you must sign into your account and go to settings, then widgets. Click the “create new” tab in the corner and fill out the descriptions needed for the timeline. Once you’ve finished the form, it will create an embed code you’ll need to include in your website post.

The Guardian used this feature. The newspaper created a Q&A timeline that allowed readers to ask reporters questions about the information given to the newspaper by former National Security Agency employee Edward Snowden. The timeline was embedded in an article.

Why embed? Businesses might not have hot topics like NSA secrets to tweet about but, Willard says, any embedded timelines could attract followers to your Twitter account better than a “Follow us” button.

“Someone who looks at your website may not follow you on Twitter,” she says. “If you embed a timeline, you could get more followers and maybe even more customers.”

While the Twitter timeline is still a new feature and will likely, Willard expects the tool to catch on as more people learn about it.

Have you explored any of these ideas with the new Twitter timelines? Tell us about it!

This post contributed by guest author, Lisa Furgison. Furgison is a media maven with ten years of journalism experience and a passion for creating top-notch content.

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