By Vlad Vidaeff
Twitter has been a prime focus of our weekly blog due to the frequency of new features that the social media network has introduced over the past couple months. Some new features were only discussed, such as eliminating the 140-character limit, while others have been finalized, such as Twitter’s deal with the NFL to live stream Thursday night football games. This blog will discuss another new feature that was recently implemented by Twitter, the Connect tab.
For anyone following Twitter’s stock price, the motivation for the flurry of activity is due to Twitter’s struggles to grow its user base. In the fourth quarter of 2015, Twitter had 305 million active users. Fast forward to May of 2016 and the active user base has only grown to 310 million. Twitter is an interesting platform as most users typically follow both people they know and people they do not know. Twitter users will often follow celebrities, athletes, and other famous individuals. As a result, finding all the users you would like to follow used to be a challenge. Twitter’s new Connect tab aims to remedy this issue.
Twitter has developed an algorithm that considers the people you already follow, Tweets you like, popular accounts in your area, and notable events going on to recommend users you should follow. Based on your activity, the algorithm refines its suggestions over time. In addition to the website, the feature is also offered on mobile: iOs and Android. The Connect tab is organized into sections including “People You May Know” and “Popular Near You.” The section with the most prominent real estate on your screen is “Trending Now” that focuses on newsworthy accounts. This makes sense as Twitter recently changed its category in the App Store from a “Social Network” to a “News” app. Even though this change is more cosmetic than substantive, it allows Twitter to distance itself from Facebook and other growing social media platforms while focusing on being the prime source for hearing about newsworthy events.
Through the Connect tab, Twitter is hoping that users will be encouraged to follow newsworthy accounts in addition to their friends and their favorite celebrities. By making the process of finding users an easier process, this feature is one of several that Twitter has introduced to continue to evolve its brand. While not a major change, most users will welcome this new feature. The bigger question is whether they are even aware of the new feature, and if so, will they try it out.