twitter timelines social media strategy

Social Sprint: Non-Chronological Twitter Timelines

Across the weekend, #RIPTwitter was the top trending topic worldwide. Users were terrified of non-chronological Twitter timelines, Twitter’s latest announcement.

Going through changes

Changes are coming because Twitter’s growth flatlined in 2015. Instagram overtook them and Facebook have almost 5 times the users. Something had to change.

Non-chronological timelines are the latest attempt to appeal to a wider audience. See also:
While You Were Away
The possible removal of the 140 character limit

Here’s how it is set to work. When you login to Twitter, tweets will be ranked. Pull down to refresh and the timeline returns to normal. The idea is to provide high quality tweets, rather than force users to scroll and scroll until they find something good.

Built in fail-safe

First things first, you’re able to opt-out. Don’t like it, turn it off in the settings. This is Twitter’s get out of jail free card, insuring themselves against potentially losing thousands of users.

Opt-out also means that if no one particularly likes the new timeline, it’s easy to hide. Twitter Moments is rubbish, but it doesn’t matter because it’s not intrusive. If the new timeline is bad, everyone opts out and normal service resumes.

Impress your friends!

Here’s the question that’ll impress anyone bringing up the new timeline: How will their algorithm decide what a quality tweet is? Big data is on their side, but there isn’t a clear metric that shows tweet quality.

Likes, retweets, how many followers someone has; none of these are great for quality assurance. The aim should be to create an experience similar to Reddit’s front page, but it’s all sounding a bit Facebooky right now.

Lost control again

It’s unlikely that we’ll know exactly why tweets are ranked how they are, giving users less control over their timeline. As a network that offers authority over your timeline, this could be a major turn off for long term users.

It also changes how we write for Twitter. One thing to note about Jack Dorsey and Paul Rosania’s defences of NonChron timelines – they’re chronological. One tweet follows on from the last. If NonChron hits it big, tweets lose their real-time and responsorial relevance. Sorry for using the word responsorial.

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