Thursday evening is usually a quiet affair for all in the JE Consulting office; however this Thursday proved to be different as excitement rose at the new announcement by Twitter, which could see social media marketing via this platform become an even more powerful tool in 2012.

Since launching in 2006, Twitter has gone through relatively few changes, whilst its nearest rival Facebook rolled out change after change, much to the annoyance of Facebook fans.

However, at roughly 10pm last night an announcement from the 140 character micro-blogging site came like a “slap around the face by a wet fish” to Facebook.

Along with providing a real challenge to Facebook’s throne as the number one social media network, and whilst the changes introduced by Twitter may not be as drastic as those Facebook have unveiled during 2011, they do promise to make the platform easier to use for those who weren’t brought up on social media and make the network a better experience for Twitter veterans.

The changes include a new design which will be rolled out in the next few weeks both on mobile devices and via desktop computers, ensuring that the experience you receive from Twitter is the same wherever you’re using it from; and with the new design comes four new tabs to replace the existing ones and make Twitter a simpler yet more effective method of micro-blogging and online marketing for all who use it.

The four new tabs are:

Home:

Home is simply you newsfeed and is where you’ll be able to view Tweets from those you’re following; yet with the new Home tab, it’s easier and quicker to see the information which matters to you.

From the left-hand side tab, you’ll be able to access your favourite features, including suggestions on who to follow, trending topics and the number of followers and following. Whilst within your tweets you’ll be able to embed images, videos and conversations, so you can see the whole story in a glance, without having to wait for various pages to open up – and the changes to the Home section will be consistent across iPhones, Android, mobile phones and desktop computers.

@[USERNAME] – Now “Connect”:

Previously the @ symbol was a way for you to communicate with another user on Twitter, for example if you wrote a tweet and put @JEConsulting it’d go to JE Consulting’s Twitter feed.

With the upgrade made by Twitter, the @ tab (which will be known as Connect) is now the place to get involved in conversations on Twitter. Via this tab, you’ll be able to see information regarding who has followed you, retweeted or favourited (I’m not sure that this is really a word?!) one of your Tweets or mentioned you – and by keeping everything in one place, it means you’ll never miss a thing.

For those who have the @[username] tab on Twitter, you’ll already be use to the Connect tab ahead of its launch in the new design.

#DISCOVER:

The hash tag, it’s one of those tools which not all Twitter users fully understand; after all how many times have you seen a Tweet appear in your timeline which appears similar to the following:

I’m sure you’ll agree that it doesn’t look aesthetically pleasing and instead of making people want to read it and engage with the user, it has the opposite effect and turns them of connecting with the user.

With the new hash tag tab, ideally labelled “Discover” Twitter have merged simplicity with serendipity; allowing users to tap into a stream of useful and entertaining information, customised for them.

By using the “Discover” tab you’ll see hash tag results which reflect your interests, based on your current location, who and what you follow and what’s happening in the world. On top of this, Twitter’s new “Discover” tab encourages users to spend more time on the platform as the more they use it, the more beneficial “Discover” becomes.

To use “Discover” all you need to do is enter a hash-tag which has caught your eye into “Discover” and all related stories and content will appear; helping you engage with followers who share similar interests.

ME:

We all know someone who likes to be centre of attention, and the new “ME” tab, also known as the enhanced profile pages will pander to their needs perfectly, but they’re also perfect for businesses and brands who want to use the Twitter platform as a way of marketing.

The “ME” tab (Ok, I prefer to call it the enhanced profile, so that’s what we’ll go with throughout the rest of this blog) puts you and your interests front and centre of your Twitter account.

Other users can tweet directly to you within this tab, view your lists, favourites, followers, photos and more – put simply anything you share upon Twitter will be viewable via this tab for the world. The enhanced profile page is also where you can keep up to date with your Direct Message conversations.

So why is this tab beneficial to business and brands?

The design of this page allows all users to make a bigger impression on their followers (and potential followers) with a large header image for displaying their logo, tagline and any other visuals which may be of interest.

Users can also control the message visitors see when they first come to your profile page, by promoting a tweet to the top of your page’s timeline, helping you highlight your most engaging and important content, and better connect with your target audience. This now means, if you’ve posted about a special offer first thing in the morning and tweeted throughout the day, your special offer tweet doesn’t have to get lost come 5pm Friday evening; instead you can put it to the top and allow your audience to view it over the weekend too.

When I first heard this news, I instantly though “ahh but how much will this cost” and I have a sneaking suspicion many of you have too. I’m therefore sure, just like myself; you’ll be pleased to hear that the promoted tweet function in the enhanced profile is completely FREE and publicly accessible. On top of that your profile page is your own for you to customise with your colours, logo and messaging.

These changes on first glance may look like a lot, but there is more, what’s that saying again, “you wait for a bus and two come along at once”. With changes on Twitter it seems to be the same, as along with the redesign changes mentioned above, Twitter have also announced embedded tweets.

Embedded Tweets:

This is a new way to add any tweet to your website, by simply copying and pasting a line of code.

Once the tweet is embedded on your website, your visitors will be able to follow the author with a single click, reply, retweet or favourite the tweet without leaving the page; all of which helps businesses to engage with their audience.

Twitter have already begun rolling these changes out, and they’ll be coming to your Twitter account soon, ready for the start of 2012; but don’t think that it’ll take Twitter another six years of so to introduce new changes, as it looks as though they’re really taking the bull by the horns in an attempt to make Twitter the social media marketing platform we all know it can be.

On their own blog, they’ve said following the announcement: “What we’re announcing today is just the beginning. We now have a framework in place that we will quickly build and iterate upon to help users connect with whatever is meaningful to them.”