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The Ultimate Guide to the Twitter Algorithm

written by Warren Day

The Twitter Algorithm Explained

Around 500 million tweets are sent every day. That's a lot of content to sort through. The Twitter algorithm is designed to sort and filter that information down to the few hundreds tweets you see on your timeline.

This not only effects what you see, but how your own tweets are seen by others.

With the open-sourcing of the Twitter algorithm code, we can now take a deep look into exactly how everything works.

The TL;DR Version

For those of you who just want to know what works and what doesn't, here's the short version.

1. Find a Niche and Stick With It

Twitter is all about communities. Groups of users on the platform with similar interests. These are not official or enforced, but they are automatically created by the algorithm.

The more you stay within your lane the more the algorithm will reward you by serving your tweets to the right people.

Choose a niche and stick with it. If you're always talking about fitness and nutrition, don't suddenly start tweeting about politics.

Talking off topic or engaging with off topic users will cause an "outOfNetworkReplyPenalty" and it will negatively effect your ranking.

2. Engage

All tweets have a half-life of 6 hours. After that they become less relevant and will be shown to less people. During this time try to reply to every comment you get.

This boosts your visibility and keeps your tweet relevant for longer. Meaning more eyes on your content.

3. Get Twitter Blue

If you're a Twitter blue subscriber and you're engaging with users within your network you'll get a 4x boost to your ranking. So it's worth the investment if you're serious about growing your account.

4. Maintain A High Follower-Following Ratio

Don't follow too many people. Twitter calculates your ratio of followings to followers and reduces your rank if it's too high.

Generally try to follow a max of 600 people for every 1000 that follow you.

5. Scoring

When choosing which tweets to serve up to users the algorithm uses a scoring system to determine the likelihood of a user action. The biggest being replying to a comment on your own tweet. This gives you 150 points compared to 1 point for a like. So try to write content that encourages conversation.

Predicted Action Points
Like 0.5
Retweet 1
Reply 27
Reply and you reply back 75

Note: These scores are about predicting user actions. There are different scores when a user actually takes an action. Continue to the deep dive for a full breakdown of how the Twitter algorithm works including more scores and penalties.

The Deep Dive

Let's take a look at the Twitter algorithm in detail. We'll break down each component and see how it effects your tweets. It's worth noting, not only is this algorithm about arbitrary points and penalties, but it's also about the relationships between users.

The algorithm is designed to promote interaction, so often just acting like an actual human will move you in the right direction.

Networks and Communities

Starting with millions of tweets the main way the algorithm filters content is through networks. These are groups of users with similar interests. The algorithm will try to show you content from users within your network.

These networks are determined by Twitter. You can't choose to be in a network, but you can choose to engage with users within a network and post content that's relevant to a network.

There are roughly 150k communities, updated every three weeks. You can be part of many communities at once. For example you may be part of a large "Fitness" community, but also a smaller "CrossFit" community.

This is why focusing on a niche becomes important. When Twitter ranks tweets to show on users timelines, they'll pick content from within their network first. So if you're always talking about fitness, you'll gain higher authority within that community and you'll be shown to more people within the fitness community as a result.

Algorithm is: Starts with millions of tweets Filter out spam Filter out low quality Filter out off topic Score tweets based on above table

Once tweet is scored, it's shown on a timeline, then further boosted as people interact with it based on the table below.

Engagement

User Action Points
Like 30x
Retweet 20x
Reply 1x
Image & Video 2x
Twitter Blue 2x

Hashtags

Images

Links

Penalties

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