Digital & Social Media

Does Twitter Have Facebook Envy?


What Happened: Oh Twitter, stop trying to be Facebook. Despite immediate user protest, Twitter has made updates to the structure of its timeline that just coincidentally resemble updates Facebook made a while ago.

Previously, a Twitter timeline was comprised of tweets from people followed by the account owner, retweets from those people, and ads. Now, Twitter is introducing favorites into the timeline, treating them more like retweets. If I follow Jack and Jack decides to favorite a tweet from Ryan, Ryan’s tweet is likely to show up in my timeline, too. Though retweets and favorites are two of Twitter’s key engagement metrics, they mean different things to different people. “Favoriting” is a bit elusive: It can mean you liked or endorsed a tweet, or you haven’t even read it yet and are saving it to read later on. Facebook’s Newsfeed stopped being a straightforward list of posts from your friends several month ago, when posts began appearing in your Newsfeed that were one degree outside of your circle of friends. For now, Twitter has been a bit unclear as to how it is deciding what will appear in your timeline. But like it or not, the changes are here to stay.

What This Means for Brands: For brands, the move is kind of a good one. Under the new approach, if a few of a brand’s followers “favorite” a tweet, the tweet is likely to miraculously appear in feeds of people who are not following the brand, but may actually read it because it has been deemed a favorite by someone they know. Previously, favorites entered a less public space on your Twitter profile, which takes a few clicks to find and most people don’t bother to seek out. With the update, Twitter is putting more weight on the action of “favoriting.” Also, Twitter may begin surfacing tweets that it believes are relevant to you by what’s popular and trending. Thus, if you come up with particularly engaging and creative brand campaigns, with hashtags that are getting used, you will be rewarded more than before.

Contributing to current TRENDING items are Bram Berkowitz, Natalie Hensley, Chelsea Lowe, Caroline Michelman, Tom Pompei and Daniel J. Sheehan.