Twitter has released its new (and basically first) algorithm! Is it making it more like Facebook? Not really, thankfully. But this change is trying to shift the culture of Twitter to becoming more engagement based. Since the inception of the micro-blogging platform, Twitter has shown its tweets in reverse chronological order, or LIFO for those of you who like manufacturing terms.
Last In First Out
The most recent tweet posted is the one that people see first on their timeline. LIFO is part of what has influenced the short lifespan of a tweet, being roughly 18 minutes. Because so many people are tweeting, your tweet is easily drowned in the quagmire of tweets. The solution to this has been frequency. There have been many studies done that correlate the frequency of tweeting with the amount of actions (likes, retweets, mentions, clicks) in a tweet. People who tweet more frequently will get more followers faster, have higher engagement levels, bigger impressions, and more clicks.
The new algorithm is trying to mitigate this a little bit by adding a “while you were away” section. This is a small section at the top of your timeline that shows you the top tweets of accounts you engage with since the last time you logged in.
Most of the reactions to this change have not been positive. People like the LIFO aspect of Twitter. It is a social network that is alive with conversation. The fast paced style of Twitter encourages people to log in frequently and interact with the social network.
For people who use Twitter for business, the benefit to Twitter has been that there is no algorithm, like EDGErank on Facebook, that buries your tweets. This new change really increases the importance on engagement. The “while you were away” part of the timeline shows top tweets for you, for the user. The top tweets are the top tweets of the people you engage with regularly. So if you, as a brand, want to appear in your followers “while you were away” section of the timeline, you will have to engage with them and get them to engage with you.
Ultimately engaging with your followers is part of Twitter’s best practices. If you want better results from your social media you should engage with your audience. However, now it is becoming even more important because Top Tweets are more than just a function of search, they are now a function of the timeline. Will this increase your engagement rate? Will it increase impression? Lifespan of a tweet? Click rate? At this point it is hard to tell. Likely if you are appearing in the “while you were away” section, your engaged users are more likely to engage with those tweets. But we do not know if it will impact the bottom line. The other big question is, how will you know if you are appearing in that section? Right now there is no way to know. They are no releasing any information that would alert you to that, so you cannot judge if your engagement tactics are successful with the algorithm.
Currently you can opt in or out of this new algorithm, though likely they will just make it the default for all accounts. If you would like to opt in, you can go to your settings, and click the check box that says, “Show me the best tweets first.”
Lauren MacEwen is a premier Social Media Strategy and Management consultant specializing in providing services and support for affiliate marketers seeking to amplify their marketing message across all social channels to build better audience size, market reach and conversion ratios while gathering market data useful for evolving all aspects of future communication with consumers. After leaving Disney she formed her own consulting firm, SMcubedConsulting.com
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