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Understanding the Twitter Algorithm

  • Written by NewsCo

Whenever we look at the technology behind social media platforms, we are often confronted with an algorithm that must be understood and manipulated if we hope to have any sort of success on social media. Today, we focus on the algorithm behind Twitter. So what is it, how does it work, and how can we work with it for growth?


The Twitter Algorithm: Then And Now

Like most social media networks, Twitter started out by showing feeds whenever they are posted, regardless of interaction form users or any other factors. These days, the Twitter algorithm has advanced so much that people are buying Twitter likes just to get ahead. 


But does buying likes do anything to help weak accounts? How does the algorithm work now? Social media users are continuously searching for answers to those questions online, and let us tell you - there is no definitive answer. Twitter, like any social media website nowadays, prefers to keep its algorithm hidden behind lock and key. 


After all, they do not want sponsors that pay influencers to use Twitter to be discouraged. Most of Twitter’s income is from sponsored ads, and influencers on Twitter are paid by sponsors who need them to post regularly. If the influencers know all the tricks to get ahead on Twitter, there would be no competition between them.


Why Did Twitter Switch From A Chronological Feed?

This is a natural progression as a website grows. In the early days, people were following (at most) two hundred Twitter accounts. Even if all of them posted everyday (which was rare) it was still manageable, and users can keep up with new tweets. Nowadays, the thousands of new tweets every hour would result in confusion and overload the system. An algorithm was the only solution. 


How Does An Algorithm Work?

The definition of an algorithm is that it is the protocol or set of rules that a program uses to make important decisions. In this case, decisions include which tweets to include in a feed, and which hashtags become trends. Do not be fooled into thinking that the trending page is directly proportional to the number of times a hashtag is mentioned. There are more complex rules involved. 


Nowadays, Twitter (and other social media) use artificial intelligence, or machine based learning to make decisions based on massive amounts of data collected from Twitter’s databases. 


Four Basic Factors That Twitter’s Algorithm Takes Into Consideration

Regardless of changes in Twitter’s algorithm, there are always four factors that are considered favorable, and so influencers on Twitter should focus on them.

How Recently Was The Tweet Posted?

This is called recency, and means Twitter users get more recent Tweets in their feed. Influencers and other marketers can use analytics of their target market to determine the time of day they should tweet. In other words, if your fans are night owls, then it makes sense to focus most of your tweets at night. 

What Type Of Media Is Being Tweeted?

Although Twitter is famous for the limited-character tweets, the algorithm seems to favor media rich tweets. This means that linking GIFs, images and videos will likely get your tweets at the forefront of people’s feeds and give you more exposure. 

How Active Is The Account?

Older accounts, and more active accounts are favored by Twitter’s algorithm. This makes it significantly harder for newcomers to get noticed. However, if you post regularly and actively interact with other Twitter users, you can certainly increase your chances of getting noticed. This is because the algorithm will favor your account gradually more and more.

How Engaging Are The Tweets?

It’s not enough to have media rich tweets and post them regularly on an old account. The content of a tweet is arguably the most important factor. If more people react to your tweets and share them regularly, there is potential for your tweets to ‘go viral’. The exponential increase in shares can only be viewed as beneficial to your account, so focus on the content first. It should be interesting, enjoyable, and should be something worth retweeting. 


Twitter’s algorithm is no more complex than that of other social media platforms, but doesn’t mean it sets the bar low. There are many changes that are hard to keep up with, but the main factors remain unchanged. 

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