Did Twitter just introduce their own version of EdgeRank?

Twitter announced it will soon introduce two new meta-data fields for their API: language and filter level. “Language” will identify the language the tweets are written in and “filter level” will segment tweets into four filterable categories: (none, low, medium, and high). In plain English, your tweets can now be segregated by language, and by an unknown hierarchical algorithm.

Businesses using Twitter should take note. These changes will inevitably affect how users are able to interact with their followers on the platform.

The State of Twitter

The Guardian U.K. ran a story last week postulating that Twitter isn’t making money. Though this is contrary to what Twitter implies, the Guardian uses some pretty compelling information to make their case (like the reported January 2013 net income of £16,500 for Twitter U.K., which is about $26K USD). They go on to recount all of the branded activity (Oreos in the Super Bowl, other stuff) that happens on Twitter without Twitter receiving any revenue.

Twitter is also largely expected to go public within the next year. With a Facebook-like need for advertising revenue and a means to decrease reach similar to EdgeRank, the likely progression is that one of the advanced filters will become the default display for Twitter. It should be noted that Twitter’s announcement of this change said initially that “none” would be the default setting.  Users would opt-in to more advanced filters.

What it makes sense for them to do eventually is to make one of the advanced settings default and make users opt-out of the settings. Doing this would emulate Facebook’s set-up where users can see all of a brand’s posts if they take the time and effort to opt-in. The vast majority don’t.

Does the future look bright (for Google)?

Once default filters are implemented, this will essentially make Facebook and Twitter vehicles for (enhanced) interruption marketing. When businesses understand the necessity to commit dollars to social platforms for advertising and reach, I wonder if AdWords (and to a lesser extent AdCenter) will benefit? So far as tangible results, Facebook and Twitter can’t consistently match the results of Google’s ad product. I’m curious if the tendency for a lot of businesses to look for return on investment might send dollars down a more risk-averse path?

I also wonder how users will respond to the changes. It’s difficult to judge how filtered results will look, and my initial reaction to these changes was that Google Plus might be a more appealing microblogging site. But also recall that Google Plus has their slider filters that work more or less the same way.

Jim Dougherty

Jim Dougherty

Writer and chief of miscellany at leaderswest.com
I'm the guy that wrote the article you just read. Sorry for the typos.
  • http://twitter.com/Koendezutter Koen De Zutter

    Hi Jim,

    Interesting article.
    Does this mean there will come a difference between business accounts and accounts for personal use? And, what will be the difference? (Statistics would be great)



    • jimdougherty

      Thanks Koen! According to their post, the ranking metadata will be introduced on Wednesday, but I don’t see the possibility for it differentiate between business and personal. My best guess is that larger accounts will just see a decreased reach. And I’m sure that statistics will be forthcoming once it is introduced. thanks for reading and commenting!

  • David

    Is there any evidence that the filter ranking will be used on Twitter.com? It sounds like they will just be making this data available to 3rd party developers via the API.

    • jimdougherty

      Thanks David. You’re absolutely accurate to say that Twitter hasn’t announced that they will use it on the site. That said, I think it’s been pretty evident within the last year that Twitter could care less about third party developers. If these changes are intended for the benefit of developers, it wouldn’t be the first time I got it wrong! 😀 Cheers.

  • http://twitter.com/cksyme Chris Syme

    Businesses? No offense but the big blow isn’t for business, IMO. What about emergency operations like governments and the Red Cross that rely on Twitter to get timely news out to people? Not so much of a problem with Facebook because it isn’t a real-time venue. This could be devastating if real-time gets skewed. Too early to get riled up. Need more info.

    • jimdougherty

      Thanks Chris, I think you’re spot on with your insight. I just write for businesses. That said, algorithm notwithstanding I would be concerned if agencies like this relied on Twitter rather than email to get news to people. Only 20% of people online are there and only a small percentage of these folks see each tweet….

      • http://www.ResiliencyForLife.com/ ResilientMichael

        JIm yes only a small % see each Tweet One work good sir Hashtags I’ve done NGO with refugee’s Twitter would have been amazing. Keep up the great work

  • Wesley Picotte

    Interesting. If this pans as you propose, it seems incumbent on Twitter to provide measurement in the same manner as Facebook. If Twitter’s going to put a governor on reach, companies should understand true reach for individual tweets across gross follower count (and also what impacts reach). I think your spot on in terms of potential impact to AdWords/AdCenter.

  • http://www.ResiliencyForLife.com/ ResilientMichael

    JIm Thanks for this insightful and interesting.

    ~ single most influential person on the topic of David Hasselhoff according to Klout

    Who knew that was a category.

  • Graciousstore

    It is good for twitter and face-book to come on board as advertising platforms hopefully, the competition that will rise from there may benefit marketers