When I first saw the news via Tweets in my Twitter stream that Twitter was doing away with the very thing that broke the news of Twitter getting rid of their Twitter stream, I was concerned. I immediately tweeted out a picture of the infamous fail whale with the hashtag #TwitterRIP. I agreed with most of the other Twitter fans that Twitter was becoming Facebook where they determine what each user should see in their timeline/stream based on past user behavior.
What Will You See Now?
Much like Facebook, the tweets one sees will be based on whether you’ve liked a tweet, retweeted a tweet, or clicked on a link in a tweet of a Twitter profile in the past. The more you interact with the other person or company, the more of their updates you will see. This will also mean that businesses will most likely have to start spending money to promote their tweets in order to ensure their followers see them. This is bad news for advertisers and perhaps good news for Twitter users as they will only see the best content in their Twitter stream.
Why the Algorithm Hurts Twitter.
But…the problem is that Twitter is popular for its always-on stream of Tweets. It’s usually Twitter that is first to break any news and it’s usually Twitter that is the most embedded into the big stories around the world because of this instant, always on, easy to digest stream of news. And with the rise of the hashtag, it’s been even easier for users to immerse themselves in the story as it happens. But if you put an algorithmic filter onto the stream, suddenly what made Twitter so popular is gone. But perhaps it is not. Perhaps we were too early to hammer the last nail in Twitter’s coffin.
This new algorithm for the Twitter stream is rolling out as an opt-in for users. If you want to use it, you should be able to turn it on in your settings under the ‘timeline’. On the Android app, it says “Show me the best Tweets first” with a box to check. Besides the fact that it is opt-in, I’ve also heard that by refreshing your stream, it will resort back to the classic chronological timeline. So unlike Facebook where you can’t turn off the algorithm, you can not only choose not see the new algorithm timeline or you can default to the chronological timeline by refreshing the timeline. On the Android app, you can refresh the timeline by dragging the top of the timeline down to refresh.
What Will Happen with Twitter.
It’s still too early to judge whether Twitter users like this new tweet stream or not. It’s also not really breaking news in that Twitter has been experimenting with this type of tweet stream for a while. It reminds me of the “While You Were Away” feature, just more robust hopefully. I do wonder if they are trying to compete against third-party Twitter apps like Nuzzel which shows you the most shared content on Twitter based on those you follow. If you haven’t tried Nuzzel, I highly recommend it. In the next few weeks, I’ll talk more about Nuzzel as well as some other great tools for digital and social media marketing.