15 February 2013 | Team Tamar

Twitter to start valuing your tweets – how will yours fair?

In an announcement this week, targeted at their Developer community, Twitter have launched a new attribute to their API which ranks/values individual tweets based on their effectiveness. Before you switch off and say “Twitter have API’d what to their Whosit now?”, let me clarify – whilst this is currently a “behind the scenes” change which will only be visible to people with apps that utilise the Twitter API, the change has very real implications to all users. Or at least it will…

In a move which is intended to help developers ‘surface’ high-value tweets from a noisy stream (i.e. sort out the wheat from the chaff, basically!), all tweets will now have an attribute called “filter_level” added to them behind the scenes. The current options for this attribute are “none”, “low” and “medium” (with a “high” expected in the near future) and according to Twitter the “medium” score will roughly equate to the sort of tweets you see in the “Top Tweets” section when you do a search on Twitter.

At present, what it means is that developers who have functionality to pull in tweets (perhaps based on a topic or hashtag, or from an individual) could specify to only pull in highly-rated tweets. No big change to the average user there – and most likely a positive change for filtering out rubbish. But what does it mean in the long-term?

Well, to assess the possible future impact you need to establish what attributes are used to give these tweets their relative score. If the “medium” level is similar to the “Top Tweets” function which currently exists in Twitter search, they are likely to be measured by engagement levels. In other words:

  • How many replies were generated to the tweet
  • How many people retweeted or favourited the tweet
  • How many followers the tweeter had at the time of the tweet

As most of these attributes will change over time, it seems sensible to assume that the score will either fluctuate or be awarded after a set time period.

So if all your tweets are being scored now, what could this potentially mean for users and brands in the future. Here’s a few possible implications which we’ve thought of – though there are probably dozens more:

  1. Users/accounts who have a high volume of higher-ranked tweets may enjoy better exposure, particularly in search results.
  2. When selling advertising to advertisers, Twitter could charge more for advertisers who want their content to be seen by highly-ranked users.
  3. A culmination of a users scores could even be incorporated in to tools like Klout / Kred / PeerIndex – or possibly a Twitter-created social ranking tool?
  4. Users with better scores may be offered access to new Twitter innovations (or indeed third-party developments) before other users

Obviously I’ve included a lot of speculation here, but the basic premise is very likely: now that Twitter is ranking what you post, LOTS of people will be keen to utilise/exploit this information, for both positive and less-so reasons.

Will it change the way you use Twitter?

Team Tamar