At the recent twitter Chirp conference the new annotations feature was revealed. The annotations feature lets you store arbitrary data as part of a tweet, but it is not shown in the text of the tweet—meaning it does not eat into your 140 character limit. This feature allows the format to be free form—letting the developers decide what gets stored. For a social tweeter this may not seem like much, but to a developer it provides endless possibilities.
I hope the annotations feature destroys the use of the hashtag! If the tag data is stored in the annotation, then you are free to add more to your tweet. It annoys me that many tweets have turned into nothing but one string of hashtags. Without the mess of hashtags, tweets will be easier to read. The act of filtering or muting out tweets based on topics that aren’t appealing will be much easier as well.
Annotations will provide threaded conversations by allowing the tweet to be linked not only to the most recent reply, but also grouped to a parent tweet.
Here’s another idea to wrap your mind around—annotations can make analytics tracking much simpler. If you annotate a tweet with a campaign identifier, you can then query Twitter for all tweets/retweets with that same meta data.
I really enjoyed the idea proposed by Mal Curtis—alternate language translations, which allows people to follow tweets in foreign languges. Think of how this will benefit communications for global marketers.
Although there are loads of positive opportunities with the annotate feature, there is one big potential problem. Since Twitter is not setting a standard for this metadata, lots of variation for the same data points could result in massive confusion. Developers will have to face the possibility that not all consumers or clients will be able to read particular variations. A vital question—will Twitter consider creating a metadata standard if too many problems arise?