In its latest effort to boost users and especially app usage, Twitter is testing a new way to get people involved: Those new to the social network can test drive the app without signing up for an account. Due to the limited functionality, those who download the Twitter iOS app (e.g. not Android for now) read tweets and follow up to 50 users. You can also search for tweets, explore news and trending topics, and receive notifications.
Twitter said this test is available to a small number of users on iOS, but did not specify whether it was limited to a select few countries.
This is a significant departure from how the Twitter app is currently set up. Currently, you need to sign up for an account even to view tweets in the app. (And just to be clear, you can still view tweets without logging in or registering on the web.)
But while you can read and respond to tweets, in this experiment you can’t retweet or like tweets without an account, or retweets.
You can’t do too much in terms of personalization either. Twitter allows Try Twitter users to configure limited personalization based on people you follow and places you’ve been. You can change the location settings under Settings & Privacy > Privacy & Security > Content You See > Explore Settings.
Twitter has long been working to reduce the friction of becoming a Twitter user.
Last year it was 3rd party login buttons introduced so people who sign up or sign in can link their logins to Google or Apple accounts. (That remains an option for those who sign up for accounts on Twitter, though trying Twitter is arguable.)
In connection with that, and more generally, Twitter has received a lot of criticism for being too complicated for new people to get started and become regular users of the app – something it has adapted over the years by adding making it easier to find accounts to follow, preloading suggestions that align with people’s interests, and improving the mechanics around tweeting, reading, and filtering content you may not want to see it.
In Twitter’s second quarter 2022 earnings results announced last month, the company noted that its revenue-generating daily active users (mDAUs) — a metric Twitter created for its own use — grew 16.6% year-over-year. have risen to 237.8 million. It happens to be in a legal dispute with would-be acquirer Elon Musk, which stemmed in part from a disagreement over user numbers, but the overall effort to grow its base remains a top priority, no matter how that plays out.
App researcher Jane Manchun Wong first saw the so-called Try Twitter feature and later Laura Burkhauser, product manager, confirmed the experiment.
Burkhauser also said the idea of this test is to allow users to “get” the Twitter experience — such as reading tweets and creating a timeline based on their followers — without creating an account. There’s a degree of upselling here: the hope seems to be that once users get used to Twitter’s interface, they’ll sign up for an account to join tweets and post their own.
Test drive experiences are also used by other apps. For example, TikTok already lets you watch videos as soon as you download the app, so it makes sense for Twitter to remove onboarding roadblocks so users can try its network. And a number of apps let you browse their networks over the internet (as Twitter already does).