Twitter’s latest experiment — selectively pushing tweets that seemingly don’t belong into your timeline — is no longer an experiment.
As first noticed by Quartz’s Dan Frommer this afternoon, Twitter has updated its “What’s a Twitter timeline?” help page. Along with the basic definition of “all Tweets from those you have chosen to follow on Twitter” — plus retweets and ads — there’s now this:
Additionally, when we identify a Tweet, an account to follow, or other content that’s popular or relevant, we may add it to your timeline. This means you will sometimes see Tweets from accounts you don’t follow. We select each Tweet using a variety of signals, including how popular it is and how people in your network are interacting with it. Our goal is to make your home timeline even more relevant and interesting.
What It Means For Twitter Users
You’ll continue to see occasional interlopers in your timeline, such as favorites from people you follow or retweets by people followed by people you follow. Essentially, Twitter is pushing more content from its Discovery tab into your feed, hoping to spark your interest.
The Timeline experimentation had been decried by Twitter power users, many of whom consider the feed sacrosanct, but Twitter is clearly catering to more casual users, the masses it hopes to entice to sign up and spend more time on its service. Twitter’s stock price — and advertising business — depend on continued growth and CEO Dick Costello has been clear that the company will continue to tinker in an effort to make the platform more new user friendly.
What It Means For Brands
It’s difficult to know for certain how the change will play out for marketers, but it could give the most clever and engaging brand accounts another way to reach people. Twitter already rewards the savvy, the funny and the timely; now with more serendipity in the mix, that bias should be amplified.
And in a survival of the fittest/funniest social media world, that could be an advantage for brands like @DennysDiner:
facebook is down but you can come to denny’s with your aunt and let her show you funny cat pictures in person
— Denny’s (@DennysDiner) August 1, 2014