Today, Twitter unveiled a pair of new features: the ability of users to charge their followers for access to additional content, and the ability to build and join communities based on shared interests. They’re two of the most drastic changes added to Twitter in a while, but they also fit into templates that have been popular and influential on other social networks.
The payment feature, called Super Follows, will allow users of Twitter to charge followers and give them access to additional content. This may include bonus tweets, entry to a Facebook group, subscription to a newsletter, or a badge showing your support. In a mockup screenshot, Twitter showed an example where a user charges approximately Rs.350 per month to receive a set of benefits. Twitter sees this as a way to let developers and publishers get paid directly to their followers.
Direct payment tools have become increasingly important for creators, especially in recent years. Patreon has been a big success, and other websites, including Facebook, YouTube, and even GitHub, have also introduced direct creator payment features. Twitter is likely to take a cut—a company has been hinting at subscription features that would give it a new source of revenue—though it doesn’t seem to have yet said what that fee will be.
Twitter has also introduced a new feature called Communities, which seems to be taking on something like Facebook groups. People may build and enter communities around particular interests—like cats or plants, Twitter suggests—allowing them to see more tweets based on these issues. Groups have been a massive success for Facebook (and a huge moderation issue too) and maybe a particularly useful tool on Twitter, as the open-ended nature of the app can make it difficult for new users to get started on the site.
There is no timetable yet for any of these features to be released. Twitter listed them as “what’s next” for its network during this afternoon’s Analysts and Investors presentation.