Twitter shares take flight on plans for future

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - Twitter shares soared on Wednesday as the popular social network evidently won over Wall Street analysts with its battle plan for winning users and revenue.

Twitter shares were up more than seven per cent to US$42.54 at the close of trading on the New York Stock Exchange, and inched a bit higher in after-market trades.

The boost came as the one-to-many messaging service hosted its first analysts day at a San Francisco hotel and unveiled changes on the way in the coming year.

Plans include giving every newcomer an instant, personalized timeline to make it more enticing for those inclined to simply view messages to become active members of the service, Twitter vice president of product Kevin Weil said in a blog post.

Twitter told analysts about 500 million people visit the service without logging into accounts.

"Ultimately, we believe there is something for everyone at any time on Twitter, and we want to make finding your niche simple from the start," Weil said.

Twitter is also developing ways to spotlight interesting 'tweets' people missed while away from the service, which is known for its real-time torrent of messages.

Even the most adept Twitter user is hard pressed to find every relevant message among the hundreds of millions of 'tweets' fired off daily at the service, Weil reasoned.

"That's why we're exploring ways to surface relevant Tweets so the content that is interesting to you is easy to discover - whether you stay on Twitter all day or visit for a few minutes - while still preserving the real-time nature of the platform that makes Twitter special," Weil said.

Information such as who Twitter users follow or engage with at the service can be part of a formula for providing them with "snapshots" of what is happening at any given time, according to Weil.

Enhancements coming to direct messaging at Twitter will make it easier to take public exchanges private, according to the service.

Twitter also told of plans to enhance video capabilities at the service.

Twitter last week revealed it will set up shop in Hong Kong soon, focusing on ad sales instead of the one-to-many messaging service banned in China.

The service that has been a platform for dissent and free speech wants to tap into booming growth in Greater China by selling ads to businesses such as exporters.

US Internet titans Google and Facebook already have similar strategies in place.

"We are not entering China, we're still blocked there," Twitter told AFP.

Through the new office, Twitter will target Hong Kong and Taiwan advertising markets while establishing partnerships and promoting its new Fabric platform for developers to weave the service into applications made for smartphones or tablets.

Twitter has offices in Singapore, Seoul, Tokyo and Sydney. Earlier this year, the company announced it will open an office in Jakarta.

The company referred to the Asian-Pacific area as "the growth engine for the company." Twitter has been under pressure to ramp up use of the service along with revenue.

Earnings figures showed that the number of people using Twitter monthly climbed 23 per cent to 284 million in the third quarter of this year. More than three quarters of Twitter users reside outside the United States.

Total revenue in the quarter more than doubled to US$361 million, but the United States accounted for about two-thirds of the money brought in, according to Twitter.