Twitter recently unveiled a new timeline, which marks the site’s biggest algorithm change to date. Before the change, the site displayed tweets in reverse chronological order. People logged into their accounts and viewed the most recent tweet first, down to the oldest. Now, though, people see select tweets at the top of their timelines, even if they were posted hours ago. There is a lot of confusion regarding this change. However, once you understand how the change works, you will see that it can actually make your tweets more visible to your followers.
How It Works
If this feature is enabled (because yes, you can opt out), Twitter displays tweets that it thinks are the most relevant to you every time you log into your account. This will catch you up on the important content that you missed when you were away from your Twitter account.
This is similar to the “While You Were Away” feature that Twitter enacted a year ago. However, while Twitter highlighted the tweets for “While You Were Away,” the new algorithm blends the older tweets in, meaning most people don’t realize they are older unless they look at the time stamps.
This creates a seamless transition from the older tweets to the newer ones.
Is It Like Facebook?
A lot of people are concerned that the new algorithm change means that Twitter is just like Facebook. Users have long lamented about Facebook’s scrambled news feed, which causes them to miss important updates from friends.
This is not like Facebook’s algorithm at all. You will see an average of 12 older tweets when you log into the system. Then, when you scroll down from those tweets, you view the latest updates.
In addition, you can refresh the page to see the newest tweets. This gives people the opportunity to view older, important tweets without locking them into the process.
Opting In or Out
Twitter also makes it easy to opt in or out of the feature. Users have the option of turning this feature on and off in their settings. Click on “Settings” and go down to “Show me the best tweets first.” Check the box if you want to use the new timeline. Keep it unchecked if you want to keep your timeline as it is.
The Benefits for Marketers
By displaying relevant tweets first, Twitter is boosting engagement. People are more likely to be interested in the tweets they see, so they are more likely to hit the retweet button to spread the word. In fact, Twitter is already reporting boosts to engagement levels across the board.
That is great news for brands that already have high levels of engagement. If they create quality content, Twitter will put the brands’ tweets at the top of feeds, which will make their followers even more engaged. If you’re looking for some direction, check out our guide on tweeting like a pro.
In addition, this change does not impact Sponsored Tweets or Sponsored Accounts, so your marketing dollars will go just as far as they have in the past, even with this new feature enabled. Because of that, it is a good idea to continue to mix paid and free Twitter marketing efforts. This one-two punch will provide the best results for your brand.
Unfortunately, though, marketers do have to overcome one obstacle with the new timeline.
The Impact on Live Events
Live events have long been a selling point for Twitter. People use the micro-blogging site to follow events ranging from riots to concerts. Followers read the tweets as they happened, piecing together a complete picture of the event 140 characters at a time. This was great for businesses that held live events. They could pull in huge online audiences to get more exposure.
That changes to a degree with the new algorithm. People might see tweets out of order, confusing the live event experience.
Fortunately, there are two options for fixing this problem. First, people can log into Twitter several minutes prior to the event, read through their older tweets, and then refresh the page. That will bring up the tweets in reverse chronological order.
Second, you can advise them to turn the feature off in their settings. Send out a series of instructional tweets prior to the event. Keep in mind that some of your followers won’t have any idea of how to access the settings, so make it as clear as possible. While everyone won’t turn the setting off, some will, which will make the live event experience better.
Overall, the new timeline is a welcome change for companies of all sizes. It rewards people who create engaging, high-quality content, and those who don’t get left out. Focus on your content strategy so you will move way up on the timeline. With the right content, no one can hold you back on Twitter.