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In a move likely intentioned to create extra value for markers and users given their IPO, Twitter recently revealed a new feature called ‘Custom Timelines’. Dialogue takes a quick look at what they are, how they compare to similar services, and potential uses for them. It certainly looks  quite similar to how many people  are using popular curation service Storify, so it will be interesting to see what happens.

What is a ‘custom timeline’ and how can I make one?

Custom timelines are created entirely by the user. They are essentially a curated feed of Tweets which provide an alternative to standard timelines of the home feed, hashtags feeds, keyword or term searches, and lists. The custom timelines can be individually named, have their own page on twitter.com, and each Tweet on is added deliberately (either manually or using the API). The timelines can then be embedded in websites, shared as that particular feed, and exist as part of the creator’s Twitter profile. Currently, custom timelines can only be made using Tweetdeck or the provided code.

How can it be used?

Twitter has provided some examples, particularly this one from @TwitterMusic . They can be used to house certain conversations and hashtags, highlight Tweets specific to an event, topic, or group of people, or even just to collate a ‘Best Of’ list. “Whether you want to collect the best tweets about a TV show or help people find the latest information about fast-moving, real-time Relevant Products/Services situations, custom timelines let you give everyone a place to follow along,” said Twitter’s Brian Ellin.

Here are some more examples provided by Twitter in their Blog announcement on Tuesday:

Previously, the hashtag feed has been one of the only ways to view a focused collection of Tweets around a topic. However the downside is that there isn’t control over who can use a hashtag and contribute to that feed. This feature will allow creator’s direct control and flexibility over what Tweets are included. Brands and companies will likely take advantage of this service to share best Tweets related to them in order to gain greater visibility and generate conversation. News sources can create specific feeds around certain events and topics, which was previously difficult. As such, if users want to follow or create a collation of Tweets with more customisation than a ‘List’ this will offer that opportunity.

How does it compare to similar services?

Custom timelines resemble services offered by Storify, which is a social media curation tool. However Twitter only allows pre-existing Tweets to be integrated into the feed, whereas Storify allows a range of social media post sources to be added. Storify also allows the option to intersperse text and create an annotated ‘story’ rather than just a content feed.
The custom timelines are expected to be available on TweetDeck for Web, Chrome, PC, (and eventually Mac) over the next week