In its latest effort to boost users and specifically app usage, Twitter is testing out a new way to get people engaged: Those who are new to the social network will be able to give the app a test drive without signing up for an account. The limited functionality will let those who download the Twitter iOS app (i.e. not Android for now) read tweets and follow up to 50 users. You will also be able to search for tweets, explore news and trending topics, and get notifications.
Twitter said this test is available to a small number of users on iOS but didn't specify if it was limited to a select number of countries.
This is a significant departure from how Twitter's app is currently set up. Currently, you have to sign up for an account even to view tweets on the app. (And to be clear, you can still view tweets without signing up or registering on the web.)
But while you can read tweets and reply to them, you can't retweet or like tweets without an account, or tweet afresh in this experiment.
Nor can you do too much in the way of personalization. Twitter allows Try Twitter users to configure limited personalization based on people you follow and places you've been. You can change location settings under Settings and privacy > Privacy and security > Content you see > Explore settings.
Twitter has long been working on reducing the friction of becoming a Twitter user.
Last year, it introduced third-party sign-in buttons so that people signing up or logging in could associate their sign-ins with Google or Apple accounts. (That remains an option for those signing up for accounts on Twitter, although it's moot for Try Twitter.)
Related to that, and more generally, Twitter has faced a lot of criticism for being too complicated for new people to get started and become regular users of the app -- something it has been tweaking over the years by making it easier to find accounts to follow, pre-loading suggestions to match people's interests and improving the mechanics around tweeting, reading and filtering out content you might not want to see.
In Twitter's Q2 2022 earnings results announced last month, the company noted that its monetizable daily active users (mDAUs) -- a metric that Twitter has crafted for its own usage -- have increased 16.6% year-on-year to 237.8 million. It happens to be in a legal dispute with would-be acquirer Elon Musk, which has partly stemmed from a disagreement over user numbers, yet its overall effort to grow its base remains a top priority regardless of how that plays out.
App researcher Jane Manchun Wong first spotted the so-called Try Twitter feature, and later Laura Burkhauser, product manager, confirmed the experiment.
Not everyone is ready to sign up for an account the first time they try Twitter. Our team wants to give people an easy way to read tweets and experience having a timeline. It's an experiment and still mvp. LMK if you have feedback (but you'll need to create an account first 😉) https://t.co/2kJe5gvRNG
— Laura Burkhauser (@burkenstocks) July 28, 2022
Burkhauser also mentioned that the idea of this test is to allow users to "get" the Twitter experience — like reading tweets and creating a timeline based on their follows — without creating an account. There is a degree of upselling here: The hope, it seems, is that once users get used to Twitter's interface, they'll sign up for an account to engage with tweets and post their own.
In the first iteration it is pretty basic but if people actually have a better experience because of this trial space, we would want to keep building on it. What features do you think prospective twitter users need to see to "get" twitter?
— Laura Burkhauser (@burkenstocks) July 29, 2022
Test-drive experiences are used by other apps as well. TikTok, for example, already allows you to watch videos as soon as you download the app, so it makes sense for Twitter to remove onboarding roadblocks for users to try its network. And a number of apps let you browse their networks over the web (as Twitter does already).