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Twitter’s Timeline Change May be a Business Move

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From being an experiment it has now been officially integrated into Twitter. We are talking about the new timeline feature where you can see tweets from accounts you don’t follow and tweets favorited by people you follow. The definition of the timeline has been update to communicate to users that they may see tweets identified by Twitter after examining signals into the tweets’ popularity and level of engagement with followers.

 

The micro-blogging service’s new move seems inspired by Facebook’ strategy of opt-in and recommended content. In essence, it has wrested the flexibility to curate content from users with the  promise of making their timeline ‘more relevant and interesting’ as the revised timeline definition puts it. While some users are crying foul over the change, marketing specialists say that Twitter’s strategy may have a mostly business motive.

 

Twitter’s user engagement, which it measures by looking at the timeline views per monthly user, has fallen year-on-year. At the same time, Twitter’s active user growth has remained consistent and advertising revenue per 1,000 timeline views has been increasing continuously. However, Twitter’s ad coverage is lesser than half of Facebook’s, which is around 5 percent, indicating that a user sees an ad for every 20 posts. The timeline is the easiest place for more ad units, and to encourage advertisers, Twitter must show healthy user engagement on the timeline. This scenario explains why the site has experimented with and incorporated the change.

 

As favorites are visible and a strong signal for relevant content, it may now become easier for users to get interesting content. Initial resistance apart, it is to be seen how Twitterati adjusts to the new feature. It is unlikely that Twitter will consider reverting to the old timeline unless it sees timeline engagement dropping off.