On the 6th of February Twitter’s Jack Dorsey reacted to the user meltdown over rumours of timelines changing from reverse chronological order to an algorithm format (a la Facebook). Dorsey was very specific in putting the rumours to rest, perhaps too specific …
So they didn’t plan to do it ‘next week’ but they did plan to do it. Twitter is making a hybrid of algorithm and reverse chronological order available to all users in their Twitter feed. Mike Jahr, Twitter’s Senior Engineering Manager, revealed in the bluebird’s blog that the Tweets you’re most likely to care about will appear at the top of your timeline. Twitter’s algorithm for determining these Tweets hasn’t been revealed (naturally) but their ad blog hinted at the process:
We use a person’s past Twitter activity to predict which Tweets they might like to see most. We look at accounts they interact with, Tweets they usually engage with, interests, and what’s going on in their network.
As of now the feature isn’t turned on by default so head to timeline section of your settings and choose ‘Show me the best Tweets first’. Here’s how to adjust the setting for iOS and Android.
Twitter said that in their testing they found that people with the feature turned on would tweet and retweet more, and this could be a bonus for brands with compelling content. Eric Farkas (Twitter Product Marketing Manager) writes:
Throughout our tests, we also saw an increase in engagement for brands’ organic Tweets and an increase in engagement for Tweets about live events.
The new ‘relevant tweets’ is in addition to the existing ‘while you were away’ tweets and the features will co-exist. The former will always be at the top while the latter is a sampling that will continue to appear within the timeline. With the similarity of these functions it’s hard to imagine that ‘while you were away’ can continue much longer as social platforms don’t react well to confused users. Twitter will continue to experiment as users and stock prices fall so expect more changes in coming months.