More Noise in the Feed? Twitter Experiment Provokes a Backlash



Since it went public late last year Twitter has made a series of changes designed to monetize the microblogging service, mostly focusing on generating new ad revenue. But its latest experiment—a change to user timelines—seems to have sparked a backlash.

The change means that a user can now see tweets favorited by people they follow, according to The Verge. Previously, a user’s timeline only showed tweets and retweets from other accounts.

Favorites have been somewhat private. While users can view a list of favorited tweets from an account's profile page or on a tweet's detail page, typically only the "favoriter" and the "favoritee" ever know about it, The Verge said.

The reaction on Twitter has been less than encouraging.

@daehnedac wrote: “To @twitter if I wanted to see what the people I follow favorite I would like myself no need to put it in my timeline” while @mon_mothma opined: “Now I know why twitter introduced the mute button: so I can use it on all those I don’t follow now showing up in my timeline.”

From a PR standpoint, Twitter’s experiment demonstrates the risk social media companies take when they start to tinker with online privacy and users’ ability to personalize their own social handles.

It also shows why listening to your audience, whether via social channels or more traditional PR channels, is becoming integral to the kinds of products your company develops and how to communicate those products to customers, prospects and media covering your sector.

Follow Matthew Schwartz on Twitter: @mpsjourno1





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About Matthew Schwartz

Group Editor, PR News: Matthew Schwartz is group editor of PR News, the leading source of trends, how-to content and best practices for PR professionals. Matthew leads the editorial strategy for PR News’ premium content products—including its weekly newsletter—and for its digital presence. Matthew was editor of PR News from 2003-2005. Prior to returning to PR News, Matthew was a reporter for Crain’s BtoB and Media Business magazines, where he covered business marketers and media companies. He was also editor of BMA Buzz, a biweekly email newsletter covering B2B marketing, advertising and social media, and contributing writer to Advertising Age Custom. Matthew has helped to launch blogs on behalf of ZoomInfo and direct marketing agency The Kern Organization. He also spent a few years in cable-news precincts, working as a writer/producer at CNN and Fox News Channel.

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