The changes within algorithms that define how any social media functions is something that marketers must understand and be very well in tune with. Twitter is one of the most significant tools out there for social media marketers and in this post, we will discuss the Twitter timeline and the algorithm which determines what’s displayed on the timeline.
Until 3 years ago, the Twitter timeline displayed tweets according to a chronological order that was reversed so the latest tweets would be on top. The twitter team has since changed its approach in order to make the content visible on the Twitter timeline more relevant in a bid to improve the overall experience of using Twitter.
How the Twitter Timeline Algorithm Works
Before we talk about the details of it, it’s important to note the fact that the algorithm defining the Twitter timeline is consistently being changed in order to improve user experience. With continuous testing over the months, , new ways are being figured out to improve the algorithm. As a result, the Twitter timeline sees several minor changes every month.
Unlike Facebook and Instagram, the Twitter timeline is not slated to become something that relies only on the algorithm and it will retain some of the real-time element of it.
Twitter Timeline Algorithm
The timeline on Twitter comprises of 3 primary sections:
- “In case you missed it”
- Ranked Tweets
- Remaining tweets in the order of the latest to the oldest
When you open up the twitter app or visit the website, the algorithm conducts a study of all the accounts which you follow on Twitter account. Based on a scoring system, tweets get to determine their relevance, the algorithm displays the tweets. The scoring to determine relevance is derived from a number of factors. Some of these are listed below:
- The tweets which you found engaging when you used Twitter before
- The amount of interaction which you have had with the author of the tweets
- How long ago the tweet was published, the media content with it, the engagement that the tweet has received overall
According to the scoring a particular tweet gets based on these factors, the Twitter timeline displays what its algorithm determines to be more engaging tweets for you in the ranked tweets and “in case you missed it” sections.
Also Read: 3 Social Media Marketing tips for facebook
In Case You Missed It
The name of this section is pretty self explanatory. The tweets which are shown to you in this section are based on the tweets you might be interested in but weren’t able to see them because you weren’t online when they were published.
This section appears only when you haven’t used Twitter for a long time. So the tweets in this section are based on the scoring for relevance but from a few days ago.
This section is what you see right there at the top of your Twitter timeline. It looks pretty much the same like the regular timeline but the only thing about it is that Twitter shows you tweets over there that the algorithm determines to be most relevant to you.
The rest of the tweets are what follow the other two. These are arranged in a reverse chronological order like in the old Twitter timeline. You might even see tweets made by accounts that you don’t follow in this section.
Increasing the Reach of Your Twitter
The most important factor with the Twitter timeline algorithm is the engagement, much like with Facebook and Instagram. That’s why when tweets receive interactions, they’re shown among the ranked tweets on your followers’ Twitter timeline and they may even be shown by Twitter to people who don’t follow you. Because of this aspect of the Twitter timeline algorithm, the more popular of tweets are given more exposure than they used to have before.
Here are a few suggestions as to how you can improve your reach on Twitter.
1. Experiment with the Timing of Your Posts
While it is true that some of the tweets posted will be shown on the Twitter timeline based on their ranking, the others will still be shown in the old reverse chronological order. What that means is that you should still try to figure out what the best time to post your tweets is. When you find out the post timings that show increased interaction with your tweets by followers, you’ll also be increasing the chances of your tweets being featured among the top ranking tweets.
The follower engagement and the rankings tend to go hand in hand that way.
Make use of tools like Tweroid and Followerwonk. They will help you determine during what time of the day your followers happen to be the most active on Twitter so you can try to match your posting times with their increased activity.
2. Recycle Top Posts
On Twitter, it is an acceptable act to tweet the same thing more than once. That means you can re-use any of your old tweets but that doesn’t mean you should just start reusing every one of your old tweets. Pick the cream of the crop and re-use your top most tweets from the past. Popular tweets will have better chances of being seen by more people according to the new Twitter timeline algorithm. Make use of it.
Use your old tweets from time to time but never neglect new content. You don’t want your followers only seeing you use old content again and again, do you?
3. Mentions Need to be Replied to
When someone’s considering their reach and following on Twitter, they think mostly in terms of the tweets that they post and disregard the followers’ mentions and replying to them. You have to make a note of the fact that replying to mentions also gets shared on the Twitter timeline much like any other content that you share, depending on the interaction and engagement of followers.
The Twitter timeline algorithm now also shows the replies you make on their timeline if they are also following the person whose tweets you are replying to, making your replies even more prominent on their timeline.
4. Be Smart with Your #Hashtags
The very concept of hashtags being used on social media was started off y Twitter and it is one of the most effective ways to grow the reach when they’re used properly. The best way to go about it? Make the hashtags unique and relevant to your brand.
Once you make a branded hashtag about your brand, whenever your followers will see the hashtag anywhere on their Twitter timeline, they’ll know your brand is being talked about. It will also allow you to see the discussion about your brand on Twitter.
5. Make use of Twitter Videos
Twitter used to be only text based in the past and it still primarily is but with the feature of being able to add content, video content is something that is starting to become very popular on Twitter.
The videos on twitter are considered to be more likely to get retweeted than images and GIF posts. Here are a few ways where you can start off with videos on Twitter:
- Periscope and Live Videos: You can go behind the scenes of the inner workings of your brand and post it live on Twitter using Periscope. It’s a fun way to reach out to your followers and show the human element of your brand.
- Interviews: Post interviews with the people behind the scenes and of the people who have used your brand. Ask them what they think of the brand.
6. Promoting Tweets
The thing about changing algorithm for the Twitter timeline, the change in Facebook and Instagram’s algorithms too is that the organic reach which a lot of brand s relied on for exposure is faltering. Most of the social media platforms are now becoming more focused on paying-to-play.
As hurtful as it might seem, you might just want to try experimenting with some of the spare marketing budget with Twitter ads. Yes, it is true that people are more likely to engage with posts organically than through ads but you have to consider experimenting with ads to try and compensate for the decreasing organic reach.
So, Twitter is evolving and while it continues to do so, we should also make it a point to adapt to the changes and make full use of them to successfully reach out to our followers and create a better connection with our followers.
Even though the Twitter timeline might not have become completely algorithm based, it is a fact that the organic reach which Twitter used to provide is falling. Understanding these points will hopefully equip you to better utilize Twitter for your marketing needs.