Understanding the Twitter Algorithm: An Essential Guide

Marketing on Twitter is tough. When competing with literally millions of accounts, the social media marketer has a huge challenge ahead of them. Understanding the Twitter algorithm is the key to standing out from the crowd. With an average of 500 million tweets sent per day, mastering Twitter algorithms will keep you from getting lost in the noise. Before we take a look at how you can rank better on Twitter, let’s examine the new Twitter algorithm.

What is the Twitter Algorithm?

So, why are some Tweets bigger than others? It isn’t always a matter of the quality or how informative a tweet is. The marketers behind these trending tweets take advantage of the Twitter algorithm timeline to get their content in front of the right people. Figuring out how Twitter works isn’t difficult; it uses much the same algorithm as any other social media network. At its heart, it’s about personalization. If you love football, you’ll see more tweets about your favorite teams. Passionate about politics? Then you’ll get more political content in your feed. The algorithm uses machine learning to sort content using ranking signals, which we’ll dig deeper into later.

Twitter Algorithm Updates

Every so often, Twitter makes alterations to its algorithm to ensure more of the right content reaches the right people. Ultimately, they want to boost their engagement rates and keep as many users as possible logging in regularly. In the beginning, tweets were organized in reverse chronological order. Today, these are the top features you need to be aware of:

  • Top tweet – Ranking tweets based on the people you follow and similar content from those you don’t follow yet.
  • Latest tweets – You can also switch to the latest tweets, which is how Twitter used to be by default.
  • ICYMI (In Case You Missed It)– Features the top tweets. The longer you spend on the app, the fewer of these you’ll see.
  • Happening now – Shows the latest events and topics relevant to your activity.
  • Trends for you – The Twitter trending algorithm includes trending hashtags and popular patterns based on your interests.

While these are currently the main features, the platform has said they will be making another Twitter algorithm change soon.

How Does the New Twitter Algorithm Work?

Understanding how Twitter ranks content means understanding what Twitter wants to accomplish. They want users to see the content they’re interested in without having to go looking for it. If people aren’t getting engaging content, eventually, they’ll stop using Twitter. This is why marketers need to take the time to intimately understand their target audience and the content they want to consume.

Gone are the days where simply knowing how Twitter works would allow you to game the system. It’s merely the first step to expanding the organic reach of your tweets. At the core of the algorithm are ranking signals. When you suggest Twitter content that you think might be a homerun, keep the following ranking signals in mind.

Twitter Ranking Signals

Twitter has shared some information regarding how it ranks content. However, they haven’t shared everything. Still, what we do know is more than enough for marketers to start crafting highly targeted tweets. Remember, Twitter is on your side. The more you succeed, the more they succeed because you’re giving their users what they want.

Recency

Twitter wants fresh content. For this reason, they continue to incorporate their original preference of listing tweets in reverse chronological order. That’s why it’s always a good idea to pay attention to what day and time you put out a new tweet.

Relevance

The keywords and hashtags used in a tweet tell the algorithm what it’s about and who its target audience is. If users engage with those keywords and hashtags on other posts, they’re more likely to see your tweet on their timeline.

Engagement

Engagement is proof that people like what they see. The more retweets, favorites, clicks, and impressions a tweet gets, the better. But how Twitter works is that they also take into account general engagement with an author over time. They’re looking for consistency rather than one-hit wonders.

Rich Media

It’s important to consider the type of media included in the tweet. Make sure your content is valuable or “rich” content. For example, videos tend to get the most attention on social media.

Other Ranking Signals

Believe it or not, Twitter even takes into account the user’s location. The closer you are physically to your target market, the better. Less important but still relevant is how many followers you have.

Tips for Expanding the Organic Reach of Tweets

Understanding the Twitter algorithm is one thing, but creating optimized content for the algorithm is quite another. Here are some tips for expanding your reach and succeeding on Twitter:

  • Be active – This one may seem obvious. The more you post, the more chances you have of getting seen.
  • Post at the right time – Post at peak engagement periods. Research shows the best time to post is between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. EST.
  • Follow hashtag Ttrends – Stick with what’s popular, but don’t spam hashtags. Twitter recommends no more than two per post.
  • Use rich media – Text tweets are instantly less attractive than images, videos, and GIFs.
  • Encourage engagement – Ask your followers to reply to your tweets. A call to action will boost your engagement levels.
  • Use twitter contests – Twitter contests promote engagement, which is a key ranking signal.
  • Get feedback – Find out what your followers think with a Twitter poll. Great for engagement and great for planning future content.
  • Join relevant trends – Post content that relates to what’s going on in the online world right now. Twitter will tell you exactly what’s popular on the platform at that moment so you can curate your content to match it.
  • Repackage top content – Recycle some of your content. Don’t just copy-paste it but repackage and reuse it. If it succeeded before, the chances are it will succeed again.

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