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The author

Heather Millar

Marketing Executive

Twitter recently launched a new tool that enables interactive Twitter timelines to be embedded on any website.  The timeline could be set to show tweets from a certain account, a list of accounts, tweets including a specific hashtag, or even Twitter search results. There were individual widgets to allow for these kinds of feeds to be embedded before now but this new, unified widget replaces those. It was suggested by Brian Ellin, product manager at twitter.com, that the new widget could be used to embed a person's tweets alongside their blog, for an event website to display all tweets with their event hashtag, or even a list of competitors at a sports event to be displayed in one timeline on a fan site. Ellin added: "Tweets add a live, real-time dimension to articles, news reports, and the web at large. These new embeddable timelines enable publishers, writers, developers, and any Twitter user to drop a rich, interactive piece of Twitter into their websites." The best thing about the update, in my opinion, is that when you come across a site with one of these timelines, you can interact with it at the same level of functionality as you would with the stream on twitter.com. You can reply or tweet directly on the feed, expand photos and see media, follow, RT, favourite and more. So how does this update benefit brands? By displaying the latest hot topics and interactions in one feed on the homepage, I think that site visitors will be more likely to get involved with the conversation. The functionality of the timeline enables for instant and real-time interactions, which is the core strength of the update in terms of improving connections with online audiences. As we all know, providing engaging and relevant content on a website is crucial to successful SEO, boosting domain authority and has countless other positive impacts for websites. Upcoming product launches could utilise a feed showing search results, or tweets including a relevant hashtag, on their websites to build anticipation and involvement with fans, media, industry experts and potential customers. A feed displaying the latest news and media from a big event would not only allow people to quickly catch up on the latest, but also to react to it very easily with a RT, favourite or reply. The screenshot below shows the new feed on London Fashion Week’s homepage, displaying tweets and photos from the runway directly on their website:

It's also a great development for websites that are focused on building awareness for their causes; a feed could be created to show search results of a relevant topic to a website's content, providing a real-time resource for the audience to see and interact with. Perhaps a feed for '#giveblood' on the NHS Blood Service website, or search results for 'air ambulance' on a regional rescue service website, would be a great (and free!) feature of the site to help raise awareness of their most recent life-saving work. I'm a big fan of the new widget and will certainly be adding a new feed to my own blog - when I get around to updating it again. You can learn how to embed a new timeline onto your own site via the Twitter Developer Blog (which is probably worth doing, as it’s expected that feeds created with the old tools will soon stop working!). What are your impressions of the new timeline? Will you be using the new widget yourself? Let me know, leave a comment below.