Twitter – The Dreaded Algorithm & What You Need To Know
Twitter is taking a new approach to displaying tweets to it’s users! Rather than listing all tweets in reverse chronological order like they always have, they will be introducing an algorithm to display the tweets that they feel are important to you first. Their customer research team found that many of their users had FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), and so the logical solution to that was introducing an algorithm for the timeline. Twitter currently has an algorithm which dictates what topics and hashtags are trending, however the timeline algorithm would be a completely different step for the Social Media giant.
— egg (@lifeofanegg) February 6, 2016
But what actually is an algorithm?
An algorithm is a step by step method, like a recipe, used to solve a problem. Algorithm’s are commonly used in calculations, programming and data processing. From a Social Media perspective, an algorithm is the programme that decides what content shows up in our feeds based on our previous interactions. These algorithms can have huge effects on your brands visibility on Social Media. Facebook’s algorithm has been wholly successful with users, as they only see the content that is most relevant to them (based on past interactions) however, brands saw organic reach plummet. Although the users were happy, the brands were not. Could this happen to Twitter?
Algorithmic feed was always the thing people said they didn’t want but demonstrated they did via every conceivable metric. It’s just better.
— Bret Taylor (@btaylor) February 6, 2016
What effect will this happen on brands?
Brands and public figures alike have had countless stresses for the past few years with the introduction of Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm, and many spent years building a relevant following to pretty much have it snatched from them. The new algorithm made organic reach so low that brands now have to pay to reach most of their audience.
As of Wednesday 10th February, Twitter rolled out the new algorithm and it’s no as bad as we all thought. Much like the app-users’ “While You Were Away” – a curated list of 10 or so tweets from well, while you were away – the new algorithm seems to be non-intrusive and quite useful. Due to the backlash from Twitter users about this algorithm, it seems to be highly unlikely that they will make the newsfeed completely algorithmic.
Brands will have to work harder to create eyecatching headlines and in researching their market. Brands will have to curate content that is relevant to your audience and provokes an action, ie a like, retweet or click thus making is more likely to be featured in the new algorithm.
From a local business point of view this could be very beneficial, especially if you are running events or special offers. By generating a local buzz, it’s more likely that other relevant users will see it even if they don’t follow you. Try to encourage tweeting of a hashtag at an event or retweeting of a tweet to get it into your target audiences feed.
Twitter will still be keeping the reverse-chronological timeline for all users, even if they do opt-in to the algorithm so there shouldn’t be much of a change in reach. If anything, providing you are posting the right type of content this could work wonders for your brand.
It benefits more casual users
Twitter is struggling more and more every day. Only 31% of Twitter’s 320 million users log in every day, so really the new algorithm makes sense for those users. Instead of users having to go through multiple pages of tweets to find relevant posts from the days they haven’t been online, once they log in they can see the tweets that would be most important to them first.
Twitter is a complicated Social Network for those who don’t regularly use it, and this could be the reason that Twitter experienced a decline in growth in 2015. By making Twitter more user friendly, the Social Network could again start to expand.
So far it’s 100% opt-in
Sources at Twitter tell me algorithms are strictly opt in.
— Josh Sternberg (@joshsternberg) February 6, 2016
Twitter is full of purists, meaning that many users have been extremely vocal about this change but you needn’t worry just yet as the algorithm is strictly opt in. If you’d like to try it, head over to Twitter.com and then Settings > Account > Content > Timeline and uncheck “Show Me The Best Tweets First” (or check it if you do want the new timeline). There isn’t much information as to whether Twitter will make this a necessity or whether it will be an option, but we hope for the latter.
Twitter will stay live/real-time
Twitter is live. Twitter is real-time. Twitter is about who & what you follow. And Twitter is here to stay! By becoming more Twitter-y.
— Jack (@jack) February 6, 2016
Journalists, brands and public figures alike have feared that the new algorithm could stop Twitter being so live and in-the-moment by showing tweets not in reverse chronological order. This would cause problems for those who live tweet events. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey posted recently on Twitter in reply to #RIPTwitter – a hashtag that was trending for a whole 24 hours – to reassure user that Twitter will continue to be live and real-time.
If you are live tweeting events, I recommend replying to the first tweet you made about the event and just removing your @twitterhandle. This will make it much easier for your audience to read your previous tweets about that event, and a lot less confusing if your tweet arrives in their new “While You Were Away” section.