It’s been some time since Facebook implemented its “Top Stories” version of Timeline. Once upon a time, stories, updates, and other content appeared in your timeline chronologically- in the order it was posted. In the name of “improving user experience” Facebook created “Top Stories.” Top Stories uses algorithms to push stories to the top of your feed that are, theoretically, the most relevant to you. If you tend to like and comment on one friend’s posts more than another, you will more likely see their stories in your feed. Facebook also uses this information to push relevant sponsored content to the top of your feed. This makes their ads more valuable.
When is a Twitter like a Facebook…
Now, Twitter is making its feed more like Facebook’s. Since Twitter began, it has shown tweets in your feed in chronological order of when they were posted or re-tweeted. Recently, Twitter has begun experimenting with algorithms that push “top content” into your feed. You may see tweets from users you don’t follow, breaking news, or even advertising based on your profile information, or the content of your tweets.
So far, backlash to this change has been minimal but that may be because the changes have thus far affected very few users.
Why has Twitter made these changes when theoretically the things that make Twitter different from Facebook are also the things that give Twitter its unique value? The short answer is money. Twitter is concerned that advertisers do not perceive their ads as having the same kind of value that Facebook ads have. Facebook users are more engaged, and more likely to interact with and convert from ads on the site. Since launching their own ad platform, Twitter has struggled to prove to advertisers that the site is an essential place to invest. Twitter is looking for ad success similar to Facebook.
What’s in it for Twitter?
The potential rewards for Twitter in aping Facebook’s feed algorithms are high. Proving that they can provide a positive return on investment to advertisers is essential for Twitter if they want to make money. The risks however are also high. If users believe they aren’t seeing exactly what they want in their feeds, they may become less engaged with content on the site, or even worse- they may just stop using Twitter altogether.
To learn more about Twitter’s woes, check out what we had to say about the Twitter Death Spiral.