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Will Twitter's new timeline challenge brand creativity?

18-February-2016
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Will Twitter's new timeline challenge brand creativity?

Last week Twitter announced that it would be making an algorithm-based newsfeed that would be a significant move away from the current reverse chronological timeline, where the latest tweets appear first. This announcement came just days after CEO Jack Dorsey had said that there were no plans to make any changes to the timeline. To be fair, the company is offering this as an optional feature to users but marketers and social media heads we spoke with still feel that it is a drastic step that could have repercussions on social media campaigns that run on Twitter.

Twitter goes ahead with 'recommended' tweets, makes it optional

The challenge, says Unny Radhakrishnan, Chief Digital Officer (South Asia) at Maxus, is that brands will now have to consistently build good content on this stream. "At some point, this will force brands to do paid promotion and that’s what Twitter essentially wants. As a consumer, I prefer the chronological order rather than a tweaked one," he added.

This is a thought also echoed by Amitabh Verma, the CEO and Founder of AMP Digital, who compared it to Facebook's strategy of curtailing organic reach of content in order to get marketers to opt for promoted posts. However, he agreed that a relevance-based timeline would help decrease the clutter. 

"Introducing a bit of algorithmic logic to surface tweets may be good for Twitter users who are following a lot of people. Otherwise, the only way to get around and ensure that you don't miss tweets from important people is by creating lists and muting a lot of folks you don't want to hear from. Also, you tend to miss out on all the action which happens while you're offline. Algorithms may bubble up those tweets too," he added.

Zafar Rais, CEO of MindShift Interactive also agreed that the new timeline would challenge marketers to build content that's richer and allows a higher level of personalization for content consumers too, keeping in mind Twitter's real-time USP. 

“Twitter needed to do something to get ahead of the curve and build new excitement parameters. While this will raise concerns for marketers given their algorithm adapts a similar pattern to what Facebook did, leading to a more advertising and lesser organic methodology, it will also challenge content creators to focus on quality versus quantity of production," he added.

Meanwhile, Gautamm Mehra, VP and Business Head (Social Media) at iProspect India also opined that a change in the timeline algorithm would necessitate drastic changes in measuring tools as all current tools are designed for a chronological timeline.

Alisha Malik, VP (Digital) at Metro Shoes said the move is harmful for marketers that focus on baseless fan acquisition as interaction and engagement will drop drastically. 

"Strategy to build an audience will need to be carefully looked at once users start shifting to a relevance-based timeline. For a brand like Metro Shoes, we focus on gaining a relevant audience onto our channels. Fans and followers that interact with us will get to see more of our content which is a win-win for both us as well as the audience viewing the content. We would use the platform to create advocates and not influencers," she said.

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