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Twitter Algorithm Code Released: What marketers can learn

A unique opportunity for marketers to learn a few things about maximizing engagement on Twitter.

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Over the weekend, Elon Musk released Twitter’s recommendation algorithm to the world.

There are a number of reasons why this is interesting, mainly that the code is now open-source. This gives anyone the ability to use it as a resource for building new tools, new algorithms, and even new best practices.

This is a particularly exciting opportunity for marketers to get a look into the black box of Twitter and learn a few things about maximizing engagement on Twitter.

Here are the top 10 things marketers need to know about the Twitter recommendation algorithm:

1. Engagements are scored differently than you’d expect

The conventional wisdom for most social media marketers is that retweets and comments were more powerful than likes. Turns out that’s just plain wrong.

Favorites get a 30x score boost and retweets get a 20x score boost. Replies only get a modest one-point boost.

Pretty surprising, tbh, but good to know.

2. Tweets with media are powerful

We’ve all known that including pictures or videos in your tweets are tasty to the algorithm, but for the first time we now know that they actually aren’t weighed any differently.

Media still gives a bigger boost than text-only tweets, but it's still important to optimize the content for engagement, which we'll see more about shortly.

3. Your tweets get more reach with Twitter Blue

Just as we’ve always expected – if you pay your $8 per month for Twitter Blue, you will get more engagement.

At this point, it’s pretty much a no-brainer for brands looking to jump-start their accounts.

4. Post and engage within your “group”

Have you seen those Twitter “maps” or “follow graphs” where it’ll show accounts grouped into “networks” based on the topics and other accounts they engage with?

Well, the Twitter algo does that for everyone, and boosts your reach for engaging with your bubble. To top that off, it also penalizes you for engaging outside of your group. Seems kind of counter-intuitive for a social platform, but okay.

This kind of overtly promotes the whole “echo chamber” thing, but whatever.

5. Be sticky to get on the “For You” tab

A readme note discusses ways that you can show up in the “For You” tab through positive engagement from your audience (duh). These variables include:

  • Keeping people viewing your content for more than 2 minutes

  • Users visit your profile and they like or reply to content from there

  • Authors engage with their replies

  • Users retweeting your content

  • Users watching at least half the duration of a video in a tweet

Not only are these good to know when optimizing for the “For You” tab, but these are great KPI and benchmarks for your overall social strategy.

Steven Tay lays this out in a pretty staggering way – take notes here.

6. Your following-to-follower ratio matters

For a long time following-to-follower ratio has kind of been an aesthetic, social-cred thing, but it turns out it actually does matter. The Twitter algorithm will penalize accounts that follow a lot of account but a low number of followers.

It makes sense given that this is how most spam accounts look. Something to keep in mind when you’re growing your account from zero.

7. Crypto scams get down-ranked by the algorithm

It’s important for crypto marketers to keep this in mind – the algorithm overtly down-ranks accounts and posts flagged as crypto spam. Going forward, your number 1 priority as it relates to your Twitter content should be avoiding falling into this filter tag.

You've been warned.

8. Outside links can hurt your engagement

As many have long speculated, links to other websites can hurt your reach and engagement on Twitter. It seems like this largely applies to non-news, non-media links because the rest are more likely to be regarded as spam.

But it also looks like if a tweet has enough engagements, the algorithm will not mark your link as spam.

Good to know.

9. Your engagement can be throttled by haters

This one seems obvious, but there are a number of things that will hurt your account’s ability to obtain reach and engagement. These things include:

  • Getting blocked

  • Getting muted

  • Getting reported for abuse or spam

  • Getting unfollowed en masse

tl;dr – don’t be spammy and don’t be mean and don't entice a mob to spam report you.

10. Avoid posting and engaging with down-ranked topics

As you’d expect, Twitter decreases the reach of content that is considered misinformation. Some of these things include the obvious – medical advice, DCMA content, violent content, NSFW content, and so on. Looks like they’re also down-ranking content about Ukraine, which is weird.

Anyway, I highly recommend avoiding these kinds of content to avoid violating these content topics.

Alright, now go take what you learned and be influential -- at least until Twitter launches its new, rebuilt from the ground-up, recommendation algorithm.

Shout out to @aakashg0, @wongmjane, @steventey for posting their insights that helped inform today’s newsletter.

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