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Twitter’s algorithm is working, but don’t celebrate just yet

Posted by: David Clare on 7 March 2017

Around this time last year, Twitter decided to change its service in a very significant way. The social network had always been about the latest information, news and updates from the people you follow. This was presented in a chronological stream of tweets, and changing the way this worked would be sacrilege.

But they did it anyway. Twitter rolled out a new algorithm, which saw the feed jumbled up, showing tweets you may have missed, or tweets gaining traction, above the very latest from your network. The idea behind this was that people follow so many others nowadays, and it is impossible to see all tweets, or even the best tweets, without an algorithm stepping in.

I wasn’t a fan. Neither was the rest of the Internet. But it turns out, as is often the case, the change was a good one.

While the algorithm penalises content that doesn’t perform well or is not deemed to be of interest to followers (and therefore not making the cut in the algorithm), when content is good, it gets pushed further than ever before. Now, thanks to the algorithm, a great tweet can be seen for a full 24 hours, not just the small slice of followers that may be online when you tweet it out.

Twitter’s figures back this up – brands and individuals are seeing more engagement than before the change. The algorithm is making content on Twitter relevant again, it is helping brands report increasing metrics, and it is showing people the content they want to see.

This is good news for brands. Simply put, so long as you’re putting out good quality content, then your tweets will likely make it into the feeds of your followers. But, consider this… the watercooler effect may be gone. Once upon a time, we would say ‘tweet about interesting stuff 80% of the time, and your marketing messages for the remaining 20%’.

The idea was that people will follow for the interesting content, and stay around long enough to see your sales pitch. You can throw this advice out of the window.

This year, focus on making all content interesting. Tweeting about a product range update or campaign discount isn’t going to cut it. Sure, we know you’ve always made your content interesting, but now really is the time to listen to your audience, look at your stats and ask yourself the question – does Twitter’s algorithm think this is interesting?

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