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The Real Reason Why Social Platforms are Moving Away From A Chronological Feed

by • March 21, 2016 • Experts TalkComments Off on The Real Reason Why Social Platforms are Moving Away From A Chronological Feed8600

One by one, social platforms are moving away from chronological timelines. Facebook made the move a long time ago, but more recently similar announcements from both Twitter and Instagram, have made the web react.

People were quick to assume that this was a move with an financial motive, that it was just a new way for platforms to make us pay to push our posts to the top of users’ timelines. While this might indeed happen, it would just be a consequence, and not the main motivation.

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So if generating more ad revenue is not the main reason for which platforms are moving away from straightforward chronological timelines, why are they doing it?

They Are Doing It For Us

Well, to start with, platforms claim they are doing it for us, to offer us a better user experience, to show us more of what matters to us. And I, for one, choose to believe them.

Social media have become HUGE, there is no doubt about that. That means millions (maybe billions) more users than just 2 years ago. That also means we all have more friends, and people we follow. And as direct consequence, there is so much more content shared at any moment, within our circle of friends and followers.

Chronological timelines were built to serve us content as it was shared. Platforms knew this would end up being a bit of an issue for users. How can they keep us engaged, when we have to scroll through hundreds of posts before finding one we wanted to interact with? With the rapid growth of social platforms, chronological timelines were doomed to become obsolete.

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Facebook made the decision a long time ago to offer two types of NewsFeed: most recent and top stories. And while this was not an ideal solution for all, it certainly helped declutter timelines for many of us who simply have hundreds, or thousands of friends on Facebook, on top of the dozens of brands we all decide to follow on the platform. And it worked well for Facebook. In fact, most of us have now accepted this as the norm. Did it help push out more advertising on our timelines? Probably. Is it necessarily a bad thing? Probably not, to be honest. At least now we get the choice between seeing everything as it happened, or getting a good selection of what really matters to us.

Twitter And Instagram Had To Do It

Twitter and Instagram are not has big as Facebook. Not yet anyway. But users tend to follow more people on these platforms than they would even consider connecting with on Facebook. And the problem is therefore the same: how can we engage with the content we really like, when it gets lost among another hundred updates?

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Getting rid of chronological timelines seemed like a necessity for Twitter and Instagram, so we can see more of what really matters to us, and less about updates we care less of at that specific moment.

Timing Is The Key

Algorithms select the content they will cause to appear on our timelines, based on our past interactions: because we have liked something, commented on a post form this user or shared content relative to another. This is pretty good. But what would be even better, is if those algorithms would become time sensitive.

For example, I like to know what is happening in the world in the morning and would rather see content from news broadcasters on my Twitter feed for example. But later in the day, during my lunch break for example, I usually choose to reconnect with my family and friends, and then I want to see pictures and updates from them.

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Do you hear me Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and the others? I need you to be a bit more clever as to what content is important to me, at different times of the day. And if your algorithm can’t understand my behaviour, then simply ask me… I would be happy to help you serve me with better content.

What about you? How do you feel about platforms moving away from chronological timelines?


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