A quick inventory of today's messaging apps makes it clear that most exist to help people send text-format messages. Take away text messages from Facebook Messenger, for instance, and you'd be left with a few cute stickers and a convoluted means of requesting an Uber. Remove text from WhatsApp, and you'd be left with an inconsistent phone call app.
You can say hi in the exact same way on iMessage, WhatsApp, Twitter DM, Kik, and a legion of others. So it's what you share and who you share it with that keeps you coming back.
It's hardly surprising, then, to learn that Twitter is placing a "send tweet" messaging button on all tweets on iOS and Android, beginning today. The button, an aggressive design tweak, is intended to encourage people to share more tweets in private, direct messages (DMs), as conversation starters.
If you've ever shared a tweet over DM, you know that doing so can often spark a great conversation. Twitter knows this as well, and the company is betting that adding a "send tweet" button to its design will lead to more of them and keep people coming back to DMs and, by extension, its timeline.
Snapchat is the master of facilitating content-sparked conversations. (It's also an exception to the text-at-the-core rule.) Every messaging thread on Snapchat begins with a snap, the company's core unit of content, setting the tone for the rest of the conversation. Snapchat also made it easy to share snaps from its Live Stories directly into messages, furthering this experience.
Adding a button won't turn Twitter into Snapchat. But that's not what the company is after. It's simply working to increase the value proposition of its platform by facilitating richer private conversations, sparked by content shared across the platform.
Alex Kantrowitz is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco. He reports on social and communications.
Contact Alex Kantrowitz at email@example.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.