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Twitter reaches out to non-users with new ’email tweet’ button

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First Twitter invaded your Facebook feed. Then the screen of cable news networks everywhere. Next up: Your email inbox. Twitter today announced an email button that will make it even easier for users to share tweets with friends.

The primary target demographic with this latest update, says Twitter engineer Stefan Filip, are people who aren’t on Twitter already:

“If you’re like me, you probably come across tweets every day that you’d like to share. They might be funny or include a striking photo. They might be breaking news or feature old news. Of course, you can retweet any of these to your Twitter followers, but sometimes you want to share with another group, like your college roommates or your parents or a friend who isn’t yet on Twitter. That’s why we’re introducing the ability to email a Tweet directly from twitter.com.”

As Twitter further cements its reputation as a source for breaking news, the addition of email sharing may be one of the first signs that Twitter is trying to realign itself as a media company.

First, it will allow Twitter to organically expand its user base. Now it’s not a pain to send a tweet through email, should you want to share it with your grandmother. The email button sits in-line with the “Reply,” “Retweet,” and “Favorite” buttons. Without this button, users had to open up an individual tweet, copy the direct link, paste it into the body of an email or messaging service, and press send. Filip makes it clear that with just one click, users can share tweets online via email to anyone – not only other Twitter users. Should the content be worth reading, the recipients of these tweets might be motivated to sign up for Twitter.

Second, Twitter has long been used to distribute media by its users, making the email button a natural extension of that sharing function. Despite the popularity of social media, the data still shows that email and word of mouth are the two most popular forms of sharing news among Baby Boomers and Gen X, according to Knowledge Networks. Millennials, on the other hand, get their news from a “posted link” – in other words through social media channels. More importantly, Twitter is a mobile-first platform. While gaming and browsing the Web are other frequent activities on mobile devices, email still remains the most popular activity (based on a Pew study) on both tablets and smartphones. Second to this is the activity of consuming news.

Twitter might find that its users are sharing tweets with the older generation if done through email. According to a study by The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, among those age 45 and older, 51 percent share news through email, and 71 percent recognize that Facebook is a popular platform for sharing news. This may indicate that those in this age demographic may be willing to change their news-sharing habits.

The email button will be rolling out in the next few weeks, and Twitter confirmed with us that metrics on the number of times a tweet has been shared via email will not be displayed.

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