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Twitter Curation – Much Ado About Nothing?

There has been plenty of press over the past couple of weeks disparaging the news that Twitter would begin using algorithmic feed curation. To entrenched Twitter users, this goes against the grain. “I select which tweets I want to see, and don’t want that muddied by irrelevant noise.”

Cutting to the chase, I’m inclined to believe that there are times that this could actually enhance my experience. And even when it doesn’t help, it may not be all that perceivable to me (i.e. I won’t be overwhelmed by noise).

How did I arrive at that conclusion?

Putting aside the pontification about Twitter’s motives, I’ve been thinking about how I use Twitter, why, and does this change really matter me. I wouldn’t classify myself as a “die-hard” Twitter user, but might say that I’m fairly representative of the consistent daily user. As such, what is my reaction for each of my Twitter use cases?

1)      Daily check on important news: There are days when I find Twitter invaluable for getting the latest news. There are others when I feel uninspired (slow news days or days when stories I follow are in overkill mode). In this instance, I wonder, could some added tweets beyond those I follow provide some additional breadth (and depth) to my feed? Quite possible yes – as long as those stories are of interest to me.

2)      Participating in my industry’s community: Driven by my profession, I want and need to keep up with and participate in the industry. Who’s talking about my company, competitors, industry news, etc.? This is very similar to the news use case – with the exception that I also want “discovery.” Although Twitter has #Discover, it doesn’t always hit the mark.  Finding interesting themes of content could provide something of interest.

3)      Communicating directly with a brand for assistance or to provide feedback (positive and negative): I take the time to tweet questions, praise, and concerns to airlines, hotels, restaurants, stores, manufacturers, etc. Although this use case would not be directly impacted by the curation changes, I could envision Twitter using this data as a vehicle to help determine what content would be of interest to me. If that proves to be true, this could be a plus for marketers. You could potentially even benefit from a competitor engaging successfully with its customers.

4)      Trying to find something in real-time (e.g. Is Andre Ellington really starting for the Cardinals this weekend?): This use case is often driven by a personal need. I want the very latest news related to a specific question or event. In this case, I may glance at my feed, but largely rely on search. Perhaps my searching could help drive what future content gets infused into my feed?

Where does this all net out? Ultimately, I think it will come down to the degree to which Twitter infuses other content. I suspect that if it’s less than 5% of my feed, most times I won’t specifically distinguish between the tweets of “someone I follow” or “curated content.” Going beyond that rough percentage, I may start to notice or be able to identify what is “selected” vs. “enhanced.” This is where Twitter needs to be very good at selecting what gets infused, and could provide value.

Tags : social media

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