Social Media | 2.3.15
Back in November 2014, Twitter promised investors that it was working hard to release a few new features in the new year. One feature in particular is now being tested out this week and it’s called Instant Timeline.
Instant Timeline is a new functionality that will allow new users to search for the content they actually want to see in their news feed. A big challenge on Twitter is that in order for users to see any kind of content on their news feed, they have to follow dozens of people and organizations, and sometimes, most of the content doesn’t even interest them. You could be following 800 accounts but find only ¼ of the content valuable, for example. What’s more, tweets are displayed in reverse chronological order so it’s hard to find the “great” tweets from the “not-so-great”.
One of Twitter’s biggest problems is retaining new users. Currently, Twitter has 284 million users. Two to three times more people have signed up or have used the service but didn’t stick around.
How Instant Timeline Works
Instant Timeline is a huge improvement compared to Twitter’s former setup process. According to the New York Times, “setting up an account is quick and painless.” The first step of the account remains the same. After you enter your email, username, and password, Twitter will ask to access your smartphone contact list. Twitter will then use that list to scan for other uses to suggest followers for you. Traditionally, if you didn’t follow anyone, you wouldn’t see any content. Instant Timeline doesn’t require you to follow anyone to see content. Instead, Twitter analyzes your contact list and uses that information to find accounts or content that might interest you. It then populates content in your news feed without requiring you to follow a single account.
So if you’re friends with soccer fans, you’ll probably get content about soccer. Or if you’re friends with foodies, you’ll have content about food and nearby restaurants in your feed.
The idea of this new functionality is to create a more engaging experience for a new Twitter user. Instead of seeing an empty news feed, they have a fine-tuned well of information from the start. Of course, Twitter has reminders to follow new accounts and built-in tutorials to explain certain parts of the platform. And eventually, the algorithm will work less as the user becomes more acquainted with using Twitter. Eventually, the user will have a normal Twitter feed.
Twitter is feeling pressure from investors to obtain some major growth. Hopefully, with this new feature, Twitter will be able to do that. Instant Timeline is still in its testing phases to new users. If it goes well, Twitter will open it up as a standard procedure for all users in the next few months.