Twitter recently made headlines by sharing some of its secret source code on Github, including the algorithm for recommending content to users. This move has significant implications for businesses and marketers who want to improve their engagement and reach on Twitter.
Here, we'll look closer at Twitter's recommendation algorithm, its recent release to the public, and what it means for users and marketers.
What is Twitter's Recommendation Algorithm
Twitter's recommendation algorithm is a machine-learning model that uses various signals to personalize content recommendations for each user. These signals include the user's past activity on Twitter, the activity of accounts they follow, and their interests based on the content they engage with.
The algorithm uses this information to predict what content a user will likely engage with and then surfaces relevant content in their feed. It also considers the content's recency, the authority of the accounts posting the content, and the type of content (e.g., text, images, videos) when making recommendations.
Additionally, Twitter uses a diversity filter to ensure users are exposed to different content and opinions rather than only seeing content that aligns with their current views.
Here's how it actually works
Twitter's recommendation algorithm is based on deep neural networks, which use large amounts of data to identify patterns and make predictions. The algorithm is trained on a massive dataset of tweets, including the tweet's content and interactions with it (such as likes, retweets, and replies).
Creating Interest Graph of the User
The algorithm uses this data to build a user's "interest graph," which represents their interests based on the content they engage with on Twitter. It then uses this interesting graph to personalize recommendations for each user.
For example, if a user frequently engages with content about a specific topic, such as politics or sports, the algorithm will surface more related content in their feed.
The algorithm also considers the context of a user's behavior on Twitter. For example, suppose a user frequently engages with content from a specific account. In that case, the algorithm may assume they have a relationship with that account and will prioritize its content in its recommendations.
Factors used for Ranking recommendations
Once the content is prioritized for recommendation to the user, it needs to be ranked in the timeline. Below are the technical details of how the ranking works based on the insights shared by few researchers like Aakash Gupta:
Ranking parameters for tweets are based on the number of likes, retweets, and replies received. The algorithm gives a 30x boost for each like, a 20x boost for each retweet, and only a 1x boost for each reply.
Incorporating images and videos in a tweet leads to a 2x boost in ranking.
Including links may negatively impact a tweet's ranking unless it has enough engagement.
Engagement metrics such as mutes, blocks, unfollows, spam reports, and abuse reports can adversely impact a tweet's engagement.
Verified profiles with the "Blue" checkmark are given a healthy boost in their tweet's ranking. Furthermore, paying the monthly fee provides an additional boost to tweet engagement.
Misinformation and posts related to Ukraine are highly downranked, and any content that falls into these categories is penalized.
The algorithm clusters similar profiles and uses this grouping to extend tweet reach beyond the followers to a broader audience.
Posting content that is not relevant to the cluster may result in a negative impact on tweet engagement. Therefore, it is recommended to stick to the niche.
The algorithm penalizes the use of made-up words and misspellings by categorizing them as "unknown language" and assigning a low score of 0.01. A score under 1 is considered detrimental to a tweet's ranking.
There are three critical data points that affect tweet engagement: followers, engagements, and user data. Likes, retweets, and replies represent engagement data, while mutes, unfollows, and spams represent user data. The follower graph is the third critical data point.
Twitter Algorithm's Impact on Users and Marketers
Twitter's decision to make its recommendation algorithm open source is a significant move that has been met with praise and concern.
On the one hand, it allows developers to build on top of the algorithm and create new features that could improve the Twitter experience for users. On the other hand, some worry that transparency could lead to system abuse, such as bots or malicious actors manipulating recommendations for their gain.
Impact on Users
From a user perspective, the open-sourcing of the recommendation algorithm could lead to a more personalized and relevant Twitter experience.
Users can fine-tune their recommendations based on specific interests rather than relying solely on Twitter's algorithm. This could also lead to more diverse content surfacing, as users have more control over what they see.
In addition to the benefits of users having more control over their recommendations, the release of source code also builds transparency and trust in users. This allows users to have a better understanding of how Twitter's algorithm works and provides them with the opportunity to verify its functionality.
As a result, users can make more informed decisions about the content they engage with on the platform. Furthermore, transparency and trust can lead to an increase in user engagement and satisfaction with the platform.
Impact on Marketers
For marketers, releasing the recommendation algorithm could significantly impact their Twitter strategy. Businesses can better tailor their content to increase engagement and reach by understanding how the algorithm works.
As a marketer, utilizing the information provided by the source code can help gain deeper insights into the audience and optimize the social media strategy. With access to the code, analyzing the data can identify the most effective times to post and the type of content that resonates best with the audience. Determining the most effective hashtags to use in posts can also help reach a wider audience.
Understanding which metrics are most valuable for the brand is essential in running successful campaigns with clear goals. Analyzing metrics like comments, shares, and clicks can gauge the engagement of the audience and adjust the strategy accordingly. For instance, it may be found that comments are more valuable than likes as they represent a higher level of engagement from the audience.
Overall, the release of the source code provides marketers with a wealth of data to optimize their social media strategy, and with a clear understanding of the most effective tactics, engaging content can be created that resonates with the audience and drives success for the brand.
How to Use the Algorithm to Improve Engagement/Reach
Now that the Twitter algorithm is open-source, businesses can gain insights into how it works and use this knowledge to improve their engagement levels and reach. Here are some ways businesses can leverage the algorithm to their advantage:
1. Understand Your Audience
To take advantage of the Twitter algorithm, businesses must first understand their audience's behavior and interests. Businesses can tailor their tweets to their audience's interests and increase engagement by analyzing their followers' behavior and engagement levels. This could include using relevant hashtags, using images or videos, or tweeting at the optimal times when their audience is most active.
2. Use Engaging Content
The Twitter algorithm favors content that is engaging and relevant to users. Businesses can improve engagement by creating interesting, informative, and entertaining content. This could include tweeting current events or sharing informative articles about their industry.
3. Use Hashtags and Keywords
Hashtags and keywords are essential for increasing the reach of your tweets. Businesses can increase their visibility and reach a larger audience using relevant hashtags and keywords. However, it is essential to use them sparingly and only when relevant to the tweet's content.
4. Encourage Engagement
The Twitter algorithm favors content that receives high levels of engagement, such as retweets, likes, and comments. Businesses can encourage engagement by asking followers to retweet, like, or comment on their tweets. This could include asking questions or starting a conversation about their industry.
5. Use Twitter Analytics
Twitter Analytics gives businesses valuable insights into followers' behavior and engagement levels. This data allows businesses to tailor their tweets to their audience's interests and increase engagement. This could include tweeting at the optimal times when their audience is most active or using relevant hashtags and keywords.
The release of Twitter's recommendation algorithm to the public is a positive step toward transparency and could help foster a better relationship between users, marketers, and the platform.
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