The New Twitter Algorithm

Facebook’s ever-changing algorithm gets all of the attention. For the past few years, brands have lamented the loss of their organic reaches as a result of Facebook’s algorithmic updates. But what about Twitter’s algorithm? Recently the micro-content platform released an algorithmic timeline that marked a vast departure from the Twitter we all knew.


What is an algorithmic timeline?

An algorithmic timeline is a new feature that ranks tweets, and accordingly, shows tweets at the top of users’ timelines based on their rankings.  The objective behind this algorithmic release is to help Twitter users stay caught up with the content they actually care about. It’s easy to miss out on a tweet, or two, or three from your friends or favorite influencers if you aren’t able to check your feed constantly and Twitter recognized the frustration that it brought to many users.


What’s interesting about this update is that Twitter is not forcing the change on all of its users. Instead, the platform is letting its users choose to switch their platform settings to this enhanced feature. As most social networks know all too well, even the slightest platform changes often cause initial outreach; Twitter is taking a different approach by easing its users into a new algorithmic era. In many ways, the update is simply an extended version of their previously released “While You Were Away” feature, which pulled the top (what Twitter deems to be the top based on previous engagement and interest) three tweets published while a user was logged out of the platform.


With that said, Twitter did receive some initial backlash from users who pointed out that a non-chronological, interest-based timeline basically transforms Twitter into another version of Facebook. What makes Twitter…well, Twitter is that it has always been completely in-the-moment and fresh; the platform provides a way for users to listen and contribute to conversations in real-time. While the new algorithmic timeline is optional, some users who are protesting foresee the optionality of this timeline as temporary.


Twitter users can update their Timeline algorithm by logging into their settings and choosing “Show Me The Best Tweets First.” With this setting, even if a tweet was posted six hours ago, if it was a tweet sent by someone that a user engages with regularly, it will surface near the top of the timeline, thus ensuring that it does not get overlooked.




How does this affect my reach/engagement/followers?


As more Twitter users alter their settings to “Show Me the Best Tweets First” there will be more pressure to publish content on the platform that is high quality and highly engaging. If your users do not ever click, like, respond or Retweet your posts, Twitter’s algorithm will not register your content as being among the best posts to include at the top of the timeline within the “Show Me the Best Tweets First” system.

What’s next?

Twitter has not formally indicated whether or not this optional algorithm will eventually become not-so-optional. But one thing is for sure: timing is no longer everything on Twitter. Just as publishers experienced on Facebook, the content standards on Twitter will be raised if publishers want to be included among followers’ must-see-tweets.

*Images sourced from Bloomberg Media and Twitter.

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