May 4, 2023

How to Use the Twitter Algorithm to Your Marketing Advantage

Every social media platform is constantly evolving, but Twitter (now X) stands out more than others. These days it’s never clear which way Twitter/X will change but with over 350 million active monthly users, there’s plenty of scope for connecting with wider audiences and boosting your brand awareness.

In April 2023, the platform’s algorithm was released publicly, bringing with it a focus on community, authoritative subject matter, niche topics, and trustworthy content. 

Let’s look at what we know now about the Twitter/X algorithm and share some tips on how you can use it to your brand-boosting advantage. 

What is the Twitter/X algorithm?

The latest Twitter/X algorithm focuses on a cohesive mix of ranking signals including recency, virality, relevance, geographical location, and personal interests. This revamped set of ranking rules are, in many ways, several algorithms rolled into one.

In addition to its evergreen ranking fundamentals, Twitter’s newly-visible inner workings have now shifted from a ‘black box’ (secret) algorithm to one that is now open-source. In a move made by Elon Musk towards the end of March 2023, it’s now possible to unlock the platform’s full marketing potential.

Screenshot of Musk's tweeted poll
Screenshot of Musk's tweeted poll

After launching a poll on the platform some while back, the Twitter/X CEO discovered an overwhelming preference to make the platform’s algorithm more transparent. In this new open-source chapter for Twitter/X, anyone who wants to peek under the platform’s bonnet can do so on Github.

But, while Twitter/X has made apparent moves to increase the platform’s transparency, not everyone agrees. In fact, many top developers have stated that parts of the open source code is vague and occasionally lacks context.

While people may be polarized over its transparency, here’s what we do know about Twitter’s algorithm:

  1. Data aggregation: Key data is collected based on your Tweets, your followers, and your personal activity. The algorithm’s new data aggregation format, as outlined in Aakash Gupta’s Substack, curates insights based on your followers. But, what’s more interesting is the fact that its data aggregation parameters also take ‘likes’ and ‘bookmarks’ into consideration (a factor that can result in a 30x content boost). The algorithm also collects insights based on visual media (a factor that can earn your content a 20x boost).
  2. Formation of features: Once the platform has curated all of the relevant data, it will transform these insights into ‘feature buckets’ including relevant segments of Tweets & users; the probability of people interacting with your content; and trust, safety & platform violation checks. This very granular approach means that content is analyzed based on its probability of creating positive interactions—taking the tweet writer, the potential tweet recipient, and the tweet itself into account. The algorithm’s ‘SimClusters’ ‘feature bucket’ also meticulously groups (or clusters) tweets as well as users based on topic or subject matter using AI capabilities.
  3. Mixing: This third and final phase of the process is where everything comes together on your feed. Using a concept called ‘HeavyRanker’, Twitter/X aims to rank each Tweet that could be served to you, based on the probability that it will lead to positive actions for yourself and the platform. According to Aakash Gupta’s informed research, HeavyRanker’s probability framework actually holds the most fruitful ranking signal. If the algorithm believes that a user you’re targeting will reply and engage with your tweet positively, you’re likely to earn a 75x content boost.

Essential Twitter/X algorithm functions & ranking signals

Now that we’re up to speed on the essential concepts of Twitter's algorithm, we’re going to glance at some of the platform’s features and ranking signals.

The functions

The Twitter algorithm has resulted in these key platform functions which are focused on earning better content reach:

  • Each like earns an average of 30 times more reach boost than before
  • Each retweet earns 20 times more reach boost
  • Each reply earns just one times greater reach boost

The ranking signals

Based on the algorithm’s new rules and processes, here are some key ranking factors or signals to consider:

  • You could experience a greater reach boost as well as a more prominent reach penalty for staying inside and straying outside of your network bubble or main topic lane (or key area of expertise)
This tweet from eco clothing brand Patagonia earned healthy levels of platform engagement. It’s an excellent example of authoritative and timely subject matter coupled with inspiring visual media.
This tweet from eco clothing brand Patagonia earned healthy levels of platform engagement. It’s an excellent example of authoritative and timely subject matter coupled with inspiring visual media.
  • External links can actually hurt your reach unless you are a recognized authority in your niche, industry or subject matter. If you are using external links for your content, it’s important to check whether they come from a trusted and recognized source
  • Your ‘followers to the following’ ratio now counts as a measure of your overall trustworthiness and authority
Nike is a hugely iconic brand that earns consistently colossal levels of Twitter engagement—and its ‘following to follower’ ratio contributes to its extensive platform reach.
Nike is a hugely iconic brand that earns consistently colossal levels of Twitter engagement—and its ‘following to follower’ ratio contributes to its extensive platform reach.
  • Your reach will become down-graded based on the more people who have muted or spam-marked your account
  • Poor grammar and misspelling will now have a negative impact on your authority, success, and brand reach
  • Clear cases of fake news or misinformation will be immediately down-reached if they are flagged
Verizon tweet with misspelling of 'your'
Verizon tweet with misspelling of 'your'

In this famous example of poor Twitter grammar, Verizon was openly mocked online, putting a slight dent in its brand reputation. Under today’s algorithm, this kind of content is likely to suffer greater penalization from Twitter/X.

Make the most of the Twitter/X algorithm

In addition to following the best practices mentioned in the ‘ranking signal’ section above, here are some top tips on using the Twitter/X algorithm to your advantage.

Focus on your brand reputation

Another key ranking signal for Twitter/X comes in the form of a ‘Reputation Score’. Basically, Twitter/X will increase or decrease your visibility based on the value, accuracy, and transparency of your content. If your content or messaging is considered inaccurate or offensive, it will get downranked immediately and your platform visibility will suffer.

To ensure your tweets reach the right people at the right times and serve to boost your Reputation Score, always triple check your sources, facts, and messaging before sending it into the ether.

User fewer hashtags and more visuals

Well-crafted tweets with relevant and entirely eye-catching visuals are twice as likely to earn a healthy boost on the platform than those without.

In addition to making sure you weave visual media into the lion’s share of your Twitter/X content, you should also start using fewer hashtags. While hashtags were once an effective means of expanding tweet reach, now they could actually harm your brand authority.

As a general rule of thumb, you should use a maximum of one well-placed hashtag per tweet—or none at all if you can’t find a hashtag you deem to be valuable.

Leverage trending topics

If you explore and take note of the trending topics on your feed or related to your niche, you can use them as inspiration for your content.

Under the newly-evident features, content related to trending or timely topics is likely to receive an extra boost. So, keep your eye on emerging topics, start tweeting—and don’t forget to add visuals when you can.

Mention other accounts in your niche

To leverage Twitter’s stronger focus on ‘clustering’ and relevant subject matter, mentioning other brands, accounts or users will boost your platform authority and reach.

When you’re crafting your Twitter/X content, consider influencers, thought-leaders or other authoritative brands or publications in your niche and mention or tag them to spark engagement, conversations, and interactions that will earn you the boost you need to stand out from the crowd.

Work with insights and analytics

Learn social media marketing with the DMI

Working with Twitter/X analytics will also give you a greater insight into how your audience engages with your content as well as how your content is performing. 

This melting pot of metrics will ultimately give your Twitter marketing strategy the shape and direction it needs to succeed.

Learn social media marketing with the DMI

If you want to level up your social media marketing skills and get ahead on platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and of course, Twitter/X, we have something to get you there.

Our flexible and industry-recognized social media marketing course will give you the knowledge as well as the credentials to improve every key aspect of your social media strategy. Enroll today.

Dan Hughes
Dan Hughes

Dan is a content writer specializing in digital marketing, emerging tech, music and looking after a toddler. You can find out more about him and his work by visiting his Catchy Space.

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