2015 has seen a raft of changes and new features introduced to Twitter. However, nothing is sacred when it comes to making Twitter “easier to use” and the reality is that Twitter needs to grow by a few hundred million users if they want to be a powerhouse in social media.
The latest tweak from Twitter appears to be that they are messing around with the order of tweets as they appear in your timeline. The hallmark of Twitter has been the reverse chronological stream where tweets flow and update as they are posted. It is live and tweets come in as things are happening. However, users are now seeing something different:
— Jonathan (@jdgallagher) December 7, 2015
Many users are drawing the comparison to Facebook and referring to this as the “Facebooking of Twitter.” Facebook uses algorithms to surface content that it thinks you will be interested in at certain parts of the day.
However, Facebook’s algorithms are a complete mess and tends to surface irrelevant content at the wrong time which I have no interest in. A typical example is anything which tends to be sports related. I usually see a post about a football match kicking off which gets surfaced to the top of Facebook about 24-48 hours after the football match has been played.
The Facebook algorithm doesn’t seem to have a clue what it is doing, so why would anyone else want to replicate that?
Jack Dorsey has alluded to the fact that Twitter would be questioning the structure of their timeline in a Q2 earnings call. He said that:
You will see us continue to question our reverse chronological timeline, and all the work it takes to build one by finding and following accounts, through experiences like ‘while you were away’. We continue to show a questioning of our fundamentals in order to make the product easier and more accessible to more people.
Personally, I’m hoping that these tests show Twitter that moving away from how they surface tweets at the moment would be a disaster. I love Twitter, it is by far my favourite social network. I don’t really have any use for the “while you were away” feature because I am never away from it that long and I don’t really have any interest in seeing tweets other than the order they in which they come in.
Jack Dorsey says that Twitter is getting easier to use every week, so the pressure is going to be on now to show the return for all the hard work they put in. Twitter will have to start showing user growth at some point in the not too distant future.
This year they have introduced features such as group messaging, video uploads, Moments, polls, switched stars for hearts and cleaned up the photo experience on the web. With so much change in 2015 it will be important to start showing a return on investment in 2016 so that the shareholders are kept at bay and I am not sure that playing with the timeline is the right thing for them to do.