You may have seen rumours circling around the internet that this week Twitter changed the way its users would see their tweets, going from chronological order to algorithmically organised.
Before you tut and roll your eyes in disbelief at yet another social media platform change, ask yourself whether or not the change will actually be a good thing? We may just need to take a step back and understand what and why it has changed, before we pass judgement.
So how do the changes affect you, the user?
Beforehand, your newest tweets were at the top of your timeline, and the further you scrolled down your timeline, the older the tweets got. Now Twitter has changed to an algorithm format – which some are calling the ‘relevancy over recency’ algorithm.
This means that when you sign in, the tweets you’ll see will be ones that are most relevant to you, that you missed while you were logged off. Essentially Twitter will be making your timeline more personalised to you, so you can view tweets of interest first and catch up on things you’ve missed.
About a year ago, Twitter introduced the ‘while you were away’ feature, allowing you to see tweets that went live while you were logged off, so the move to an algorithm timeline is building upon that, and making the feature more user friendly.
It won’t be completely obvious that your timeline has changed at first. That is, until you look at the time a message was posted in the top right hand corner of the tweet. It’s similar to the way Facebook has a ‘Top Stories’ section and a ‘Most Recent’ section, which you can change between – but this option isn’t going to be available on Twitter. Some say the algorithmic timeline feature on Facebook is why it had the biggest advantage over Twitter. But isn’t that why people loved Twitter, because it worked differently from Facebook?
For the everyday user, using Twitter to keep in touch with friends and follow celebrities or notable people, the change shouldn’t have that much of an impact on your Twitter lifestyle. However, one slight issue could be with Twitter conversations and live tweeting sessions. When a user comes to log back on, the tweets may end up all over the place and not in chronological order – which is what made Twitter so great. The algorithm timeline will come into place by default, but if you really cannot get to grips with the new format, there is an option for you to opt out it.
Twitter wants to entice new users to the platform. Its revenue is substantially falling behind that of Facebook, even though Twitter is great and provides millions of people with updates and breaking news every millisecond.
Last year, Twitter struggled to add any new American users to the site, hence why they think changing the format will bring in a different audience. It has also been mentioned that the new timeline will attract advertisers, especially as these tweets can be the first that are seen when a user logs in – increasing brand awareness and potential reach.
All in all, no one likes change – and there is always going to be resistance to it. But, before you immediately dismiss it, why not give it a go? You never know, it may suit your lifestyle better! If it doesn’t work for you at least you can change it back to how you prefer, so what’s there to lose?