We got used to the fact that indexing of posts on Twitter was done chronologically, while they were displayed from the latest to the oldest. Moreover: the purpose of the live-stream was to make them stand out. However, since Wednesday, February 10th, the way of displaying tweets after a longer absence has changed. When scrolling through the timeline, we fill notice the most interesting posts – meaning the most popular ones that we have missed. We will also see other content related in terms of its subject.
The changes sparked controversy – after all, the lack of filtering of content distinguished Twitter from Facebook. However, a user that observes, let’s say, 100 active people would not be able to catch up with all new content after just a few days of absence. The most engaging tweets could be lost in the sea of other information.
The new algorithm is supposed to make life easier – quoting Twitter’s blog: “We want to make it even easier and faster for people to discover and catch up on what’s happening right now”. The decision was well thought: “We’ve improved the timeline by analyzing how millions of people engage with billions of Tweets — and we’re using this information to determine the best content to surface.” The algorithm conducts selection of posts, favoring those which are most likely to spark attention. Twitter supports original and interesting content that will probably be shared by people. The criteria for displaying are supposed to include popularity and level of interaction with their authors. In order to prevent chaos, tweets will still appear chronologically – so that we won’t risk misunderstanding the logic of a conversation. The company declares that testing of the new solutions was so promising, that the change will not only be well-received by existing users, but also attract new ones, thanks to easier browsing of the followed profiles.
The new algorithm is an advantage for brands. Companies that use Twitter as a medium of communication with the clients will receive more comprehensive statistics about the interest generated by their content. Thanks to this, they will be able to adjust to the general trend of publishing unique content. In other words – they will need to put more effort into producing quality content. Good, high-quality content considered interesting by the user will be more visible. The algorithm does not affect promoted content, so advertising will work as before.
The introduction of the new algorithm seems to suggest that Twitter is considering a vision of a sort of personalized newspaper in the form that is characteristic for the social site. Hence, just like Facebook, it detects areas of interest of a person and provides such content, that is must likely to generate interaction. This does not mean that Twitter will turn into another Facebook. At least for now, the new timeline will be optional – the users will be asked for permission to turn on the new method of presentation. We have several weeks to learn about the new developments. After that it will become a default setting, and not an opt-in feature – although we will be able to return to the old settings.