Twitter: Changes in Stream

New changes at Twitter attempt to optimize user experience while providing advertisers with new opportunities.

Last week was a big week at Twitter. On the heels of a Buzzfeed story, rumors of an algorithm change spread like wildfire last week, leading #RIPTwitter to trend on the platform last Saturday. CEO Jack Dorsey entered the fray with a reply to the rumors on Saturday, with a carefully worded response claiming the company never planned to reorder timelines this week.

From Chronological Timeline To Algorythmic

Wednesday, Twitter announced an algorithmically generated timeline that will show tweets based on relevancy, rather than only by chronology. The new feature, “Show me best Tweets first,” is a ramped up version of its previous Timeline change, “While you’re away.” The goal is to help users get over their fear of missing out by prioritizing the large volume of tweets that passed through the stream while they were away, thereby helping users feel less intimidated by the constant flow of content.

How it works

Twitter will display a series of 10-12 select tweets under a “While you were away” header when a user opens the site or application. The rest of the timeline is displayed in typical reverse-chronological order. At any point, users can refresh to see all new Tweets at the top in the live, up-to-the-second experience they’re familiar with.

We believe Twitter’s motive is to surface tweets that users want to see, increasing the amount of retweets and replies on popular content, eventually leading to an overall surge of conversations across the platform. For now, the algorithmic option is opt-in only, but the new timeline will roll out for all users in the coming weeks. After its official rollout, users who dislike the feature will have the option to turn the setting off.

New Video Advertising

At the same time, Twitter announced a new video ad unit that gives advertisers the chance to be first in line at the top of a user’s feed. “First View” gives marketers the opportunity to make a stand-out first impression, immediately when a user opens their app. This ad unit will only be shown once per day, per publishing account, so there’s a bit of novelty built into the ad type. For marketers, keen messaging strategy and timely features like “First View” create great opportunities. Publishers looking to highlight their position within events, trending news, or campaign launches could use “First View” to create an immersive multi-channel experience. For example, combining a “First Look” Twitter social strategy with the launch of a campaign gives marketers the ability to create an immersive second-screen experience with key audiences. Providing unique content that supports a television campaign launch could be just what fans need to take those next steps.

With changes to Twitter’s sorting algorithm and the introduction of new position-based ad units, we believe Twitter is assembling a premium block of content that presents a great opportunity for advertisers. If Twitter were a magazine, the Best Tweets first section would be like the cover. Using more sophisticated ad strategies to ensure that your ad is placed within that block presents new advertising opportunities, and it may become an efficient strategy for advertisers looking for a halo-benefit from the other tweets in the section. Like Facebook’s ads in timeline versus right-hand rail ads, advertisers can target the Best Tweets first section for specific campaigns and use the reverse-chronological order section to maximize reach and impressions.


This blog post is by Jonah Martinson, Community Strategist & Andrew N. Williams, Digital Promotional Strategist.