What would the Twitter algorithm mean for my business?
The idea of an algorithm-based Twitter feed has been horrifying users of the social platform for some time now. In fact, comments on the subject go back to 2014 and even earlier. Despite being met with near-universal disdain (or even outright hostility) from users, it's something that Twitter chiefs have continued to suggest. Now, with Buzzfeed predicting that this feature will finally become a reality before we know it, businesses across the world are asking what the change could mean for them.
The end of democracy?
What makes Twitter most revered is its democratic nature. Posts are arranged (ignoring, of course, the 'While you were away') in chronological order. All tweets, in effect, are born equal.
This is a great leveller for small businesses, as it puts them on a par with even their biggest counterparts. A small gift shop in Woolacombe can essentially compete with John Lewis on the level playing field that is Twitter. At least, they can for now. An algorithmic-based Twitter feed could put an end to this.
Big firms that are more ahead of the curve - or even those big enough to determine future trends - can get a foothold on Twitter's algorithm quicker than their competitors. If, they know for example that fuschia will be the big interior trend of the year (thanks to their industry contacts) they can get in on the action early. Then, once an algorithm decides what to rank where, any account deemed to have 'authority' on the matter will feature more highly.
If this change were to happen, the process of social media marketing would change entirely. Added to the canon of building audiences, posting fun content and engaging with followers would be getting ahead of trends. Essentially, a lot more research would be needed to pre-empt any trends.
More paid content
Some of the more cynical observers have said that an algorithm isn't actually the big thing Twitter is considering at all. In fact, this is just the first part of a bigger drive to encourage more people to spend money. With an algorithm-based feed, companies that don't have the time to invest in creating a large organic reach can instead pay for instant results. This has happened in Google and Facebook, so why not Twitter?
Knowing that paying to appear on top of user feeds is possible, companies can circumnavigate the algorithm and make sure they are still seen.
The two above points are not mutually exclusive. It's likely (if what's gone before is to be trusted) that the best results will come to brands who do both of the above. By keeping on top of trends, business accounts will be afforded more trust signals by the Twitter algorithm - ranking their content much better. Then, for an added push, paid tweets can ensure they always reach the audience. In fact, better quality scores could bring down the cost of paid content, meaning it isn't quite so expensive getting to the top.
Whatever the outcome - if Twitter rolls out the changes as expected or bows to public pressure - it's certainly worth keeping abreast of developments, just in case.
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