MORE UPDATES BELOW. Twitter really wants people to stick to its platform especially for power users and still be able to attract new users and keep them. The social media giant hopes Twitter Topics will kill these two birds with one stone. Twitter announced it was experimenting with Topics mid-August and has now begun rolling it out.
How Topics will work
Twitter will begin by scanning incoming tweets for interest-based keywords(not images or videos). The company then checks the see if the tweets are from credible people, looks at their engagement by seeing how many people are actually interested in this topic to have interacted with said tweet either by liking, retweeting or replying to it. If the said tweet(s) have more engagement, they make it to Topics.
Interest-based follow model
By following topics, you’ll begin seeing tweets associated with that interest even from people you don’t actually follow. Twitter is now moving to an interest-based follow model.
For now, Twitter will allow users to follow 300+ subjects in their timeline and Topics will range from sports, gaming and entertainment. Politics will not be included – the company recently banned political ads.
Topics will come in handy to new users who are still figuring out who to follow the sign-up process can be intimidating even after Twitter suggests to you who to follow.
Twitter Topics would have been heaven-sent to me when I first joined in Twitter – I now follow almost 5000 tweeps; don’t judge me.
I am excited that even current and older users will use Topics to discover new interests and keep up with them in a more easier way.
The future of topics and upcoming features
Twitter is planning to add more topics in future updates. The company is also testing what it calls “Narrow Casting” where you’ll be able to tweet to followers of a particular subject.
The Twitter team is also working a feature to mute topics.
Another feature is will also be the ability to browse topics on the explore page and to view topics on a dedicated list.
Concerns about Topics
“As with any machine learning problem, we learn the most from putting this in customers’ hands, and seeing what they engage with so we can build better models. Our goal is to get this out as quickly as possible and get people using it so we can improve our algorithms,” Rob Bishop, Product at Twitter said in a Verge interview.
Get an early look from Casey on how our new feature, Topics, "a radical reinvention of the timeline," is everything he "hoped it would be."
We're excited to give everyone a feature that makes it easier to use Twitter in the way you've always wanted: to connect to your interests. https://t.co/s9a1OP31vh
— ebony (@ynobeturner) November 6, 2019
Twitter Topics will be available worldwide on November 13th.
Twitter finally letting people follow topics. It’s a move from people-based follow model to interest-based. Algorithm can be tricky here. But it should appeal to new and casual users. Twitter has been thinking about this for a decade, and here it is. https://t.co/u3Zi9reNPu
— Alex Kantrowitz (@Kantrowitz) November 6, 2019
UPDATE 1: List of Topics
Twitter has said that it will soon launch a way to browse a list of topics in the app which you will be able to follow. They have already begun testing it on selected users.
Twitter adds that they’ll continue to show its users tweets about the topics they follow and ones Twitter thinks its users will be interested in Explore as before.
We'll be launching a way to browse a list of all of the Topics that you can follow soon (which is already in testing with a small set of customers today). We'll also continue to show you Tweets about the Topics you follow and that we think you're interested in Explore as before.
— Rob Bishop (@Rob_Bishop) November 19, 2019
UPDATE 2: You can now browse all available Topics to follow
Twitter has begun to rollout List of Topics which you can now be able to browse. In the suggested Topics, you will be able to see top tweets about them in your timeline.
New! Twitter lets you browse all available Topics to follow pic.twitter.com/u3lwv0Ctre
— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) November 26, 2019