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Twitter: Communities triumph over individuals

April 8, 2021 - 3 minutes read

During Twitter’s Analyst Day in February 2021, a big focus for the company was centred around Communities – a new initiative they are looking at rolling out later this year. This is in an effort to help users discover and connect with like-minded groups in a more structured way than they currently can which is largely just through hashtags.

During the event, Kayvon Beykpour, Twitter’s Product Lead, spoke to Interests as a critical part of their strategy, understanding that users come to Twitter to stay informed about their interests. This sparked conversation about how it is currently incredibly difficult for users to find content about their interests, with many having to find people and accounts to follow within that topic on their own, rather than these being surfaced by Twitter. 

With the development of Communities, a lot of this heavy lifting should be removed from the user, with Twitter heavily investing in machine learning to continue to improve the relevance of Topical recommendations. These Topical recommendations then directly feed into the Communities feature, helping users find and connect with Communities in a given Topic, or Interest. We expect this to be similar to how Facebook Groups operate, with users joining a community and being able to engage and communicate with other members of the Community.

Source: Twitter

Above is an example of how this might look, with tweets able to be posted to different community audiences rather than posting for everyone to see. One of the things Kayvon mentioned during this part of the event was the need for Twitter to allow people to continue to talk about their interests regardless of what was happening in the wider world, with a mention to how it could come across “tone-deaf to talk about a hobby or interest amidst the intense global public conversation about the pandemic”. Opening up these “community spaces” would allow people to speak freely about their interests and hobbies without fear of backlash from the wider community. 

This is an interesting point, as it looks at how Twitter as a platform is perceived versus what users on the platform want to be able to do, and is finally looking at how those two factors can be achieved together. Kayvon went on to talk about how they expect it to significantly increase user retention as well as providing improvements to advertising capabilities due to having a better understanding of people’s interests. 

What does this mean for advertisers?

If Twitter is able to gain more information about what users are interested in, what they engage with, and what related topics might be of interest to them, it will be able to pass this information to advertisers. Advertisers will then be able to have more control over where their ads are placed, ensuring that they are being seen by people who have a significant interest in their topic, not just the masses. 

This could also mean that advertisers who operate in more niche industries are able to see better results out of the platform, with more targeting options helping to reduce wasted spend and improve engagement across their ads whilst still providing lower CPCs than some other platforms. 

One thing that isn’t clear at this stage is whether these Communities will effectively be “closed groups”, like Facebook Groups are, and whether you would be able to advertise directly within Community spaces. Right now, it seems like that won’t be a possibility and advertisers would only be able to improve their targeting through more detailed Interests data, but it is certainly one to watch.