Bengaluru: Facebook Inc.-owned Instagram, the photo and video-based social media platform, now has as many daily active users—the number of users who access the service every day—as Twitter has monthly active users.

Instagram said in a 21 June blog post that it had 300 million daily active users and 500 million monthly active users, compared to Twitter’s 310 million monthly active users, according to its most recent earnings report.

Not just Instagram, but Snapchat too has surpassed Twitter in daily active users, according to a 6 June Bloomberg report.

Given the sluggish user growth, Twitter Inc. has been steadily rolling out features to help expand its base. The micro-blogging website has to balance the line between retaining its power users and keeping them happy, while attracting new users who may be overwhelmed by the service and all it can offer.

Here’s a list of five things Twitter introduced in the last six months to hold its own.

1. Connect: New users on Twitter could be left confused if they did not know whom to follow, and build an interesting feed. To help with this, it launched a new tab, ‘Connect’, on mobile operating systems Android and iOS, to help users discover
new and relevant accounts to follow. With Connect, users will get a list of recommendations, and the reasons behind the recommendations as well. For instance, you might be recommended to follow a news account, based on other news accounts you follow, or tweets you liked, or popular accounts in your local
area. This also gives users an option to discover friends and family on Twitter by automatically syncing their address book.

2. Character limit for tweets: Twitter’s 140-character limit has always been a bone of contention. Some say that the limit is what lends Twitter, well, its character, while others argue that doing away with it will help the service attract new users. In a move that could partly assuage both parties, Twitter last month said it would not count media—images, polls, videos—attached to tweets. The same rule would apply to the @handle when replying to someone else’s tweet, giving users a few more characters to voice their views.

3. Time limit for video tweets: Video is central to all the social sites’ strategy as it creates much more engagement than just text. Waking up to this, Twitter this week said it was increasing the time limit for video tweets to 140 seconds, up from the previous limit of 30 seconds. Twitter would also slowly ease the limit for its Vine app, which is famous for its six-second videos.

Twitter also said it would acquire a London-based artificial intelligence start-up Magic Pony using which it could make tweeting live videos look more professional.

4. Prioritized set of tweets: In February, Twitter also introduced an algorithmic timeline that would show users a prioritized set of tweets when they log in to the service, in a departure from the live-feed it came to be known for. While this move caused some furore, in a letter to shareholders after its latest earning report in April, it said that only 2% of users chose to opt out of viewing the algorithmic timeline.

“For users with the new timeline, we’ve seen increases in tweets, retweets, replies, and likes, a sign that it improves people’s experience on Twitter. Although people can still opt out if they wish, the opt-out rate is extremely low (about 2%)," the letter said.

5. Twitter Engage: One of Twitter’s biggest draws is that it enables conversations in real time not only between regular users but with public figures and celebrities. To cater to this set of its users, on 21 June, Twitter also announced Twitter Engage, a standalone app for Twitter, that provides analytics to help grow audiences and measure success of the interactions that one has.

Although this is aimed at “influencers", anybody can use the app.

“The app outlines your account performance and audience, providing a convenient and easy way to see your key Twitter stats (e.g likes, Retweets, @mentions and video views), and filter via different time periods. Go even deeper by accessing audience demographics and a real-time feed of what your fans are Tweeting about now," Twitter said in a blog post announcing the app.

This could also be a monetization push as it also said in the post that it was going to announce integrations with Vine and Niche, a start-up it acquired last year that helps brands connect with individuals for promotion. This app, however, is only available in the US on the mobile operating system iOS.

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