Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, is quoted as saying “change is the only constant in life.” This is certainly true about the tools and digital platforms we use to connect and communicate, and specifically about Twitter.
As widely reported, and as promised by Elon, Twitter has published the code that manages what tweets show up on your timeline to the well known developers website, GitHub. Twitter put out a blog post explaining the decision. The blog post details what the algorithm evaluates when determining which tweets to feature in the For You timeline and how it ranks and filters them.
It is worth noting that since going open-source, the algorithm has undergone more than 30 changes, and undoubtedly there are more changes still to come. This is the definition of an agile product team, and there is a lot for social media strategists and managers to learn from how the algorithm is changing to maximize your impact and reach on the platform.
Vanity metrics of Likes and Retweets don’t matter anymore.
These are old and lazy engagements, and I’ve often argued organizations should beware of becoming to enamored by these. Likes rarely connect to organizational or business objectives, and can be a huge distraction when trying to evaluate ROI of your social platform investments. The platform is now recognizing this and prioritizing content accordingly. Gone are the old weights of 30x for likes, 20x for retweets, and 1x for replies. The algorithm now calculates the probability of actions and applies weights accordingly. So, as a Twitter user, you should focus more on generating conversations and engagement instead of just getting likes and retweets.
Conversation Is Finally Recognized as King.
In this new probability driven Twitter, positive conversational signals are at the top, with a whopping 75x for reply to reply, and 13.5x for reply. Coming in last, tweets get 1x for retweet and 0.5x for a like.
The importance and value of integrating your audiences voice into your social content is not new and great brands have been winning at this game for over 23 years. Twitter is now just recognizing this in their algorithm. As far back as the early 2000s Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign showed brands how to do this, by encouraging customers to share photos of themselves with personalized Coke bottles on social media. Brands that continue to “spam” their social channels are missing the opportunity to engage their audience, learn about consumer preference, accelerate new product ideation, and build brand loyalty.
In the late 2000s, Starbucks’ “White Cup Contest,” asked customers to decorate the brand’s signature white cups and share photos on social media. The winning design was actually turned into a limited edition cup sold in stores.
So, it’s time to engage your audience, ask questions, and create conversations around your issues and content. This also means that using low-quality tactics to build followers will not give you long-term return, because you risk getting followers not passionate or interested enough in your content to engage in a discussion. High quality and aligned audiences will result in high quality conversations.
After Conversation, the Best Thing You Can Do Is Get a User to Click
There is now a significantly stronger value in what you put on your profile, as Twitter assigns 12x for click to profile, 10x for click & user stays greater than 2 minutes. You should have been investing in your brand presence already, but now organizations have greater incentive. If a user won’t reply, you should get them to click. The algorithm gives 12x for click to profile, 11x for click to the conversation and reply or like.
If you’re not already, evaluate and implement a “Link in profile” tools on your Twitter profile, and promote it often. A “Link in profile” tool is a service that allow users or organizations to add multiple links to their social media profiles, including Twitter. Below I list some of the most popular “link in profile” tools for use on Twitter profiles:
- Linktree: Linktree is a popular “link in profile” tool that allows users to add multiple links to their Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter profiles. It provides a simple, easy-to-use interface that allows users to create a landing page with clickable links to their website, blog, products, and social media accounts.
- Lnk.Bio: Lnk.Bio is another popular tool that allows users to add multiple links to their Instagram and Twitter profiles. It provides a customizable landing page that allows users to add links to their website, blog, products, and social media accounts.
- Campsite: Campsite allows users to create a customizable landing page with links to their website, blog, products, and social media accounts. It also provides analytics and tracking features that allow users to track the performance of their links.
- Linkin.bio by Later: Linkin.bio by Later allows users to add multiple links to their Instagram and Twitter profiles. Like its competitors, it provides a customizable landing page with clickable links to their website, blog, products, and social media accounts.
- Shorby: Shorby is a “link in profile” tool that, besides letting you create the usual customizable landing page with links to website, blog, products, and social media accounts, it also provides analytics and tracking features that allow users to track the performance of those links.
It’s important to choose a tool that meets your specific needs and budget, and that integrates well with your existing social media and marketing tools.
Long Content Is Incentivized.
Because Twitter is giving 10x for click & user stays greater than 2 minutes, publishing long-form relevant content that is engaging to your audience will get your brand or organization a boost from the algorithm. This can be in the form of longer articles allowed for Twitter Blue subscribers, publishing your content in threads, or long-form videos.
Twitter is determined to attract content creators and is providing significant financial incentives to do so. The changes to the algorithm match what Elon Musk has been saying.
Video and Images Don’t Matter As Much.
Images have no weight at al in the new algorithm. But, the algorithm does gives a slight positive weight to the probability a user will watch at least HALF the video: 0.005. So, it’s important to only include videos when its high quality and relevant enough you think the user will watch them. And avoid just throwing in images — it does nothing for the algorithm. I suspect part of this is to incentivize users to create subscriber-only high value content behind the Twitter paywall.
Negative Signals Now Matter More.
Sadly for free speech advocates, the updated algorithm gives a massive negative weight of -369x for a tweet report, and a 74x ding if the algorithm predicts a show less often, block, or mute.
If you’re an influencer or entertainer, this means you want to avoid putting out content that people might have issues with. If you’re an advocacy organization looking to engage in difficult conversations about controversial or heavily debated topics in culture, this means the voices of your opposing minority will rule the day. Twitter went from human controlled censorship, to automated rule-of-the-move shadow banning.
I hope the folks continue to tweak the algorithm, and consider valuing and giving greater weight to robust open debate, over coddling emotionally weak people that probably should avoid being on twitter for their mental health in the first place.
This is going to be a wait and see situation.
No-Link Penalty is Gone.
By deleting the pre-algorithmic boosts, the penalty for links is also gone. So, you can share links as usual without worrying about any penalty. Earlier in the week, the development team went live with a change so that users couldn’t like or retweet links from Substack, but thankfully this was rolled that back already.
Follower to Following Ratios.
If you have more people you follow than follow you, the algorithm will manually adjusts down users. But if you cross the magic threshold of having more followers than accounts you follow, the if statement doesn’t apply to your profile anymore.
I have found that Twitter, more than other platforms, has developed an expectation of “follow for follow”. The idea is simple: if you follow someone, they’ll follow you back. This is a popular way for new users to quickly build up their following and gain more visibility on the platform. But, if you’re not actively managing who doesn’t reciprocate, or you follow brand accounts that don’t do “follow for follow”, your ratio will get out of balance.
The effectiveness of the “follow for follow” strategy is a superficial tactic that doesn’t lead to meaningful engagement or interactions. The algorithm is encouraging what organizations and brands should have always been doing — gaining followers by delivering valuable content to relevant audiences.
It’s All About Predicted Probabilities
Lastly, the Twitter algorithm is driven by a neural network that applies weights to the predicted probabilities. Shifting your audiences’ behaviors to influence future probabilities may take time. Right now, the algorithm cares a ton about conversations, so engage your audience with higher quality content, and create meaningful interactions.
These changes to the Twitter algorithm highlight the importance of creating engaging conversations, keeping your audience on the platform for longer time, and avoiding negative signals. By understanding and adapting to these changes, you can maximize your impact on the platform and reach your organization’s advocacy goals on the platform.