SAN FRANCISCO: Twitter, the microblogging website, will launch a new homepage this week, as part of a broader effort by the social media service to "better show who we are" to both companies and consumers.

VMS, the news monitoring service, estimated that Twitter received $48 million (€33.8m; £29.2m) of free media coverage for the 30 days to 20 July this year, and the social networking portal is seeking to capitalise on this sort of publicity.

In order to achieve this, "we need to do a better job of explaining ourselves to people who hear about us and then have no idea what do to," Biz Stone, one of the platform's co-founders, said.

"We have to turn a lot of awareness into engagement. Our front page is not reflective of that right now," he added. 

The new features on its redesigned homepage are set to include a search box, data on current "trending topics", and more details about how to use the social messaging utility.

Stone also said that visitors will now be able to "try it out without having to sign up, so you can get an idea of what Twitter is before you use it." 

Alongside giving the site a more interactive tone, the new welcome page is intended "to show us as a place where people can discover what is going on in real-time and much more," he added.

The company has also developed a section of its website, called Twitter 101, which explains to brand owners how best to utilise its product, and offering case studies from several advertisers.

"Businesses of all kinds, including major brands, increasingly find that listening and engaging on the service lead to happier customers, passionate advocates, key product improvements and, in many cases, more sales," the Twitter 101 page states.

It quotes the example of Dell, which has 80 branded accounts on Twitter, and has used the site to "let people know about deals," as well as "interact with customers" and "raise awareness about the brand".

Earlier this year, the computer manufacturer reported that it had posted $3 million in sales using Twitter, while KFC and Whole Foods have also successfully "tweeted" to connect with consumers.

Similarly, Pepsi established an official presence on the social network in January this year, and regards it as the "only medium where we can have a two-way continuous dialog about the brand," Bonin Bough, director of social and emerging media for PepsiCo, said.

Its initiatives on the portal include tracking consumer feedback related to the launch of Pepsi Throwback, and even offering a tribute to Michael Jackson, who featured in ads for the company in the 1980s.

"We're trying to humanise the brand, to make it more accessible to consumers. On Twitter, they can complain or praise, and we can use it as a way to gauge how people are feeling," said Ana Maria Irazabal, brand director for Pepsi.

Among the major differences in the ways customers use the social media service compared with the soft drinks giant's toll-free phoneline is that they tend to offer opinions of its brands, rather than focusing on specific issues.

"They feel they're invited to give their opinions on the how the brand should move forward, and they're very detailed," Irazabal argued. "When we respond quickly, people give us kudos."


Data sourced from Boomtown/AdAge/Twitter; additional content by WARC staff