twitter's new timeline change

How Twitter’s New Timeline Change Impacts You

August 20, 2014
Josh Light

Twitter has made some big changes lately with how their timeline works. Here’s a quote from their help document, “What’s a Twitter timeline?

“[…] when we identify a Tweet, an account to follow, or other content that’s popular or relevant, we may add it to your timeline. This means you will sometimes see Tweets from accounts you don’t follow. We select each Tweet using a variety of signals, including how popular it is and how people in your network are interacting with it. Our goal is to make your home timeline even more relevant and interesting.”

This means that you’re going to start seeing tweets from people you don’t follow, but there is also another notable change worth mentioning. Some of the tweets you favorite will now start appearing in your follower’s timelines.

How Does This Change How We Use Twitter?

1. If your tweets get a lot of engagement then it is likely they will appear in other people’s timelines that don’t follow you.

2. Use the favorite function carefully. I would think twice about favoriting things like “thanks for following” or replies to conversations.

How Can You Use This To Your Advantage?

Let’s say that you are trying to get exposure to Oprah or some other influencer that you’re not connected to.

If Twitter determines what to show in your newsfeed based on mutual connections, and engagement then you could theoretically game the system.

You would first need to establish as many mutual connections as possible (like following all of Oprah’s followers).

You would then need to tweet something that got a lot of engagement. You would probably want to get engagement from mutual connections. This should increase the probability of your tweet being exposed to Oprah.

Obviously this tactic wouldn’t work as well for huge celebrities, but it may work well for influencers in your niche.

Ethical Implications

These changes sound a lot like Facebook’s news algorithm. Deciding what to show users based on mutual connections could cause more division when it comes to political or religious beliefs. If you want more information on this then check out this article, “How Facebook Perpetuates War“.

Currently the bulk of tweets you see are determined by the chronological order of which they were tweeted. Only a few of the tweets you see should be impacted by these new changes, so Twitter’s news algorithm isn’t quite like Facebook’s algorithm…yet.

User Reactions

People seem to be unhappy with this new change, but that tends to be the trend with any new change in how social networks operate.

Why Did They Change?

Twitter is a publicly traded company.  This means that they need to be showing growth or their stock price will fall. This means more experiments.

They have also recently hired Daniel Graf as the new consumer product head. Graf likely feels pressure to implement change, and show results.

What do you think about the new changes? Any ideas on how to harness them for marketing?  Would love to hear your thoughts.

(Photo Credit: Flickr via quintanomedia)