It has just been announced that Twitter is introducing a new feature – personalised content. Now in addition to the familiar ‘reverse chronology’ timeline of 140 character messages that users know and love, he or she will see tweets that an algorithm deems to be interesting to the user. This seems to be a move that Twitter is using to promote quality content that it has identified. Currently, this timeline personalisation is optional, but Twitter aims to roll it out to all users soon.
This is an important move for Twitter and undoubtedly, if the feature proves to be popular, will impact on the way that brands use Twitter and engage with users of the social network. Mike Jahr, a senior engineering manager at Twitter:
We’ve already seen that people who use this new feature tend to Retweet and Tweet more, creating more live commentary and conversations, which is great for everyone.
At the moment it appears that what will be featured in the curated Tweets is based on what the user has been reading and engaging with. But it is not entirely clear how the algorithm chooses. It is this lack of clarity that poses the biggest question. If users of Twitter start to focus on the personalised Tweets, rather than browsing their entire feed, how will brands ensure their content appears in this valuable real estate? The answer might come from the fact that Twitter stock has taken a hammering of late. The markets can’t quite see the value proposition that Twitter is offering, so it might be that the network will allow brands to feature in the suggested section of users’ news feeds for a fee. In this way, Twitter could be moving towards the business model that Facebook has adopted and we know how challenging that is proving for businesses.
But perhaps the answer is simpler; if the algorithm determining what will be promoted to users is based on how much and how regularly the user engages with the Tweets from a particular account or how high the quality of the posts is, then brands just need to ensure that they post great content, at the right time and with the right frequency. If that is the case, then Twitter might still prove to be the friend of those brands doing more and going further.