Twitter spent the past year trying to convince skeptics that its relatively slow progress in attracting new users doesn’t matter, because its reach is actually much larger. Millions of people who don’t have Twitter accounts still see tweets every month, and Twitter said it was planning new efforts to convert them into active users. That effort starts today with the rollout of a new homepage for people who aren’t signed into the service. More than 500 million people visit Twitter each month who aren’t signed in, and of those, 125 million come directly to Twitter.com. Until now, unless you were there to sign up for an account, that page has been a dead end.
Beginning today, though, people who aren’t signed in will see a curated collection of timelines designed to show off popular parts of the Twitterverse. Choices include pop artists, cute animals, space news, business news, and actors and actresses. Click on one and you’ll get a real-time feed of tweets from accounts that Twitter has chosen. Click “pop artists,” for example, and you’ll see tweets from Carly Rae Jepsen, Katy Perry, and Shawn Mendes. “TV shows & stars” will show you tweets from The Good Wife, Modern Family, and Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Ferguson. Or click “tech blogs & reporters” and see news from The Verge, Wired, and other sites.
The idea is that you can now visit Twitter to check out real-time news and conversations even if you never plan on creating an account. Twitter benefits in at least two ways — one, it can show you ads. And two, if you keep coming back, it can get you to sign up for an account and become a traditional user of the service. The company says 200 million people visit profile pages each month without signing in; if Twitter converts even a fraction of them into active users, it would help the company’s growth efforts significantly.
The new homepage also includes a prominent search bar that suggests queries for popular trends and hashtags, like #2016Election. For now, the new homepage will be available only on the desktop web in the United States. But Twitter expects that it will roll out broadly, and in a blog post it suggests that it’s continuing to experiment with the page’s design.