Why the Twitter changes are necessary

Newly revealed news from Twitter has everyone freaking out the on the social media platform this morning, with the trending hashtag #RIPTwitter, paired with angry tweets and images hinting at fears that Twitter will become Facebook.

But what many of these Twitter users don’t realize, is the change Twitter is finally making, is a necessary one. I have been saying for a couple of years now that Twitter would be needing to make this change to survive.

Let’s rewind for a minute, even back to a week ago, when articles like THIS began to surface, titled “The End of Twitter” or “Twitter is Dying” – yes, these articles all came out before Twitter announced the big changes. Why? Facebook, Snapchat, WeChat, Instagram – they are all succeeding Twitter in daily/monthly users. The reason for this is because the Twitter feed is actually incredibly difficult to navigate, because there are no algorithms at all.

Let’s whip up an example:

@DaniGInc – 8pm
“I love pizza so much”
1RT 1 ❤

@DaniGInc – 11pm
“The Winning Powerball numbers are 4, 6, 88, 1, 10”
10RT 44 ❤

If we take a look at these two hypothetical tweets and the hypothetical results they have (RTs and likes), we can examine some probable results for the current Twitter feed:

  1. No matter when the tweet was made, how many RTs or likes they got, or the topic, they were weighted equally on twitter. This means that even if the winning Powerball number tweet was more interesting to users, it was weighted the same at the pizza tweet.
  2. Users who signed in at 9pm who follow me would have only seen the pizza tweet. If they signed in the following day at 9pm, it is likely they would not see my Powerball tweet at all, due to all the tweets from their other followers filling in their feed from the following day.
  3. This makes the quality of content on Twitter not as important as quantity. If you want your tweet seen by people who sign in a few times a day, you need to ensure you are tweeting enough to get in front of their eyeballs when they do check their feed.

Let’s take a look at what would happen if Twitter adopted similar algorithms to Facebook using the same tweets:

  1. The Powerball tweet would gain more power on Twitter than my pizza tweet. Twitter would see that more people reacted to it, and would put it above the Pizza tweet on people’s feeds who follow me.
  2. Users who sign in at 9pm would likely see the pizza tweet if they are active Twitter users and frequently interact with my content, and when they signed in the following day at 9pm, they would also see the Powerball tweet since it gained “Popularity Points”.
  3. Quality comes before quantity. People wouldn’t need to tweet 500 times a day anymore to get their message seen – they can tweet one time. And if that tweet is great, and people respond to it (whether negatively or positively) it will stay closer to the top of the feed for followers to see.

As you can see, having a built in algorithm will only make the Twitter user experience a better one. I can’t say how frustrated I’ve been logging onto Twitter seeing that one of my followers has posted the same tweet 100 times in a row trying to gain the attention of a brand or celebrity, and it clogs up my feed. With the algorithms, these sorts of tweets will be filtered out. I also find it frustrating using Twitter as an owner of multiple businesses, posting something, gaining RTs and likes, then having the content die because an hour later, unless the people who have liked or RT’d my content have a lot of followers, the rest of my followers won’t see it unless they log in on time.

I hope I’ve given some clarity about the changes – ultimately I can understand why some people are upset. These changes will be most difficult on those on Twitter with small social followings – if someone’s content doesn’t garner attention frequently, their content will get harder to be found. Hopefully this inspires people to write more thoughtfully and use Twitter more for social interaction, which is what the tool was built for.

Later Gators!

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