In an effort to
be more like Facebook get “more relevant” information in front of users, Twitter has just revealed that they are, in fact, experimenting with users’ Timelines. These experiments include the company occasionally mixing in tweets of other users you don’t currently follow based on popularity and “other signals”.
The timing isn’t all that surprising: it was barely over a month ago when the WSJ published an interview with Twitter CFO Anthony Noto where the financial chief discussed the very idea of experimenting with users’ Timelines. Interestingly, though, at the time, Twitter CEO Dick Costello angrily rebuffed a GigaOm summary of the interview (which, in all fairness, did likely over-state Noto’s position on “filtered Timelines” a bit).
So, what does this all mean?
For many of us, those who are following more than a few dozen people or so– likely, you won’t notice much of a change. As these Timeline experiments continue, Twitter will be algorithmically inserting popular or ‘relevant’ Tweets posted by people you aren’t currently following alongside Tweets made by those you do. These experiments, according to Twitter, won’t even necessarily make it to 100% of users; so, you’ll possibly remain unaffected.
Still, it’s a far cry from what’s taking place on Facebook, where an algorithm determines 100% of the time what posts will show up when (and the company even has altered these based on psychological profiles). And, with the ability to create Lists and (my personal favorite) the ‘Discover’ tab, many Twitter users may not notice a thing.
For businesses on Twitter, this may even, eventually, present a new opportunity for Promoted Accounts/Posts campaigns down the line. I wouldn’t worry, at this point, that Twitter will go the Facebook route with business accounts, either– and algorithmically prevent your organic Tweets from showing up in Timelines for most users. There’s no indication at the present time that Twitter is trying to squeeze more cash from advertisers by limiting their organic reach; and, if that does eventually happen, this Timeline experiment probably won’t have much to do with that decision.
For my fellow hardcore Twitter users out there: what are your feelings on the revelation of this experimentation with your Timeline?