To Tweet Or Not To Tweet
To tweet or not to tweet
Twitter has been dominating the social media news feeds in the last few weeks. A couple of weekends ago, #RIPTwitter was trending in response to rumoured changes to the distribution of tweets on our timelines, to be controlled by a Facebook-esque algorithm. No longer the democratic, reverse chronological timelines – albeit interwoven with ads – showing us all the tweets from those we follow. Twitter HQ reports favourable results from testing the newly organised algorithmic timelines – pushing tweets artificially to the top of the home feed, or as Twitter would describe it: elevating the best content for its users. Jack Dorsey’s non-committal response did nothing to allay the fears of the Twitterati, who were already up in arms about the idea of tweets being longer than 140 characters. Worse still for team Twitter HQ, Mr. Dorsey’s tweets did nothing to mitigate the downturn in the Twitter share price, nor gave any protection against the confidence shaking news that user figures have stagnated at around 350 million. Twitter is changing to fight for survival, under the shadow of the giant that is Facebook.
What is an algorithmic timeline, and why should brands care?
Make no mistake about it, this change is fundamental to the functionality and characteristics of Twitter – thus the purists being so up in arms, they hate it when Twitter loses its identity, and even more so when it chooses to integrate features common to Facebook.
The newly organised timeline has been introduced as an optional feature – you can switch it on/off in Settings. The tweets are surfaced to the top of your feed, so you can see them more prominently, will only ever be from people you follow – your Twitter filter on the world is intact. The algorithm only listens to organic engagement – Twitter ads will work the same as always, and do not affect the prioritised tweets. Other factors which influence which tweets rise to the top include:
Is there any hope trying to hold on to the original ideals of a social network? In this sector, developments happen quickly, and rightly so – without an agile attitude, mixed with a healthy amount of listening to power users, Twitter would not be a sustainable business – which would make the decision for brands to “tweet or not tweet”, fairly academic.
This Friday team G&I will be co-hosting the first of a series of Twitter Chats, in conjunction with our friend Neil at Nurph, as part of the Clapham Works project – all are welcome to take part. Neil wrote this article after Jack Dorsey responded to the #RIPtwitter uproar a few weeks ago – fellow Twitter lovers will want to read about Neil’s idea and potentially, support his proposal for Twitter Stories via the #Save140 campaign.
I tweet, therefore I am…
Joining Twitter should not be automatic decision for an organisation, and a review of which channels and communities is a valuable best practice, which should be applied to any brand. Many social media trainees arriving at G&I, report feeling they are tweeting into the ether, not able to penetrate the noise. The stats back this up: tweets receive less reach and engagement, when compared to Instagram and Facebook. A brand must ensure it is not only using Twitter correctly, but that its participation has the correct aims – it is a powerful social network (despite the recent bad press), and I suggest these changes have the potential (in time) to make it even more so – if wielded correctly by users of course.
These changes are inevitable – I wrote a blog post about the Oligopolistic Nature of the Major Social Networks, more than a year ago – but is this bad news for brands? To me it would seem higher engagement and growing activity stats, could only be a good thing – despite the Twitterati losing its mind.
p.s. If you decide Twitter is for you, then I invite you to say Good Morning Twitter with me at Metro in Clapham on 10th March, over breakfast while I present my top picks of advanced Twitter marketing hacks.