Tech

Why Twitter is switching from ‘Social Networking’ to ‘News’

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In a bid to boost visibility, social media giants, Twitter is switching from social networking to news.
Following yet another quarter of sluggish user growth, Twitter has changed how its flagship mobile application is categorized on Apple’s iTunes App Store.

Instead of competing against Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, Pinterest, and others in the crowded “Social networking” category, where Twitter had previously ranked in the top 10, the company has moved its app to the “News” category, where it’s now #1.

The change has a two-fold effect. For starters, Twitter has been consistently ranked as a #5 application in Social Networking over the past several months – which is certainly nothing to be glum about – but ranking as the #1 app in a category could be better in terms of App Store visibility.

As users set up new iPhones for the first time by visiting various app categories, they’re likely to take a number one ranked application into heightened consideration.

More importantly, becoming a number one ranked app could potentially impact Twitter’s “Overall” ranking, which would give it better visibility in the App Store’s top “Free” apps chart where Twitter is #28.

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The move also puts Twitter’s app in front of a different sort of audience – those who are looking for easier ways to keep up with news on their mobile device, rather than those who want to use another social network. That could also boost downloads…or at least Twitter hopes.

The company has not commented publicly on the change at this time, nor has it made a similar move on Google Play. As of the time of writing, the Twitter app on Google Play continues to rank in the “Social” category.

It’s worth pointing out that non-traditional news applications do well on the App Store’s “News” category, often even topping those from mainstream publishers like The WSJ, NY Times, NPR, and others.

For example, Reddit’s newly launched iOS application is currently number two in News, just behind Twitter. Flipboard’s social magazine app is #13. And the category is easy for newcomers to break into with a good ranking, as well – just see the new CNN Politics app (#3) or theSkimm’s first native mobile effort (#5), for instance.

Twitter’s switch comes at a time when the company’s user growth has effectively flat lined. Although it grew a bit to reach 310 million monthly active users this past quarter, that’s barely an increase from the 305 million in Q4 2015.

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