Is Twitter Keeping you down?

Back on October 17 of 2011, I posted a bit of a guide for my tweeps and colleagues on building your PLN. In that guide, I shared Jeff Dunn's post from earlier in the month, The A-Z Dictionary of Educational Twitter Hashtags, that shared some general points about hash tags that I've applied myself and shared with most of my friends and colleagues over the years. Some of that information is no longer true. Mainly, I want to look at this quote from Dunn's post:
The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keyword or topic in a Tweet. Any Twitter user can categorize or follow topics with hashtags.Those hashtags (usually) mean something and are a great way to get a tweet to appear in search results or discussion monitoring. (Dunn 2011, emphasis mine)


Hashtags & Top Tweets

In order to follow a hashtag, users must complete a search, then save it (typically using a thrird party app, like Hootsuite). This used to provide users with a running timeline of everything anyone posted with that hashtag. This was a good system for consumers and creators because it allowed a way for Jo Schmo teacher to share resources from his classroom with anyone, even if he wasn't a famous published author and speaker. This helped build a Personal Learning Network. This is no longer the case.

Enter Top Tweets...

According to Twitter's FAQ on "top search results",

We've built an algorithm that finds the Tweets that have caught the attention of other users. Top Tweets will refresh automatically and are surfaced for popularly-retweeted subjects based on this algorithm... If Tweets you love aren't showing up as Top Tweets, it means those Tweets may not be part of the widespread conversation. Toggle to "All" results to see more Tweets matching your query.
In other words, all searches you conduct manually or automatically (via your twitter app), including hashtag searches no longer show you all of the results. Further, according to the same FAQ, "Some older results may be highlighted at the top because they have been determined to be of high value for your query."

Okay, so how does this affect my tweets?

So how do you become popular on Twitter if you're not already popular? After all, you should still have a fighting chance, right? Twitter says that all you have to do is, Toggle to “All” to view the rest of your search results in real-time order. This means that some of my readers, who bother to hit "all" will see my results, right? Yes, if they're doing the search right now on the twitter web site on an actual computer. If, on the other hand,
  • they're using twitter on a mobile device,
  • they've saved a hashtag search on something like Hootsuite, or
  • they're using a third party app
they will never see your tweet ever, unless you have a boatload of followers or you call / email everyone you know to go re-tweet it. I found this information on the Twitter FAQ, "Why am I missing from search?". Here is an exact quote from that page:

Are you using Twitter on your mobile device? Twitter on mobile does not include the option to display All Tweets in search results. Mobile search results will only show top Tweets and Tweets from people you follow. However, once the results load, you can refresh the timeline to get real time results.

In my experience the extreme minority of twitter users I know use the actual web site on the computer. Those people only do so rarely. In other words, don't bother unless you're already one of the cool kids. No one will ever see your content. Twitter has relegated you back to obscurity. Sorry. Thanks for playing. 

Parting shots...

I hope Twitter reconsiders this move. Meanwhile, do what you can. Beg your friends to retweet you, like I do. Get hooked up with aggregators and other services to increase your traffic and retweet everything you're even remotely interested in. Let's help each other out there. Good luck. I'm rooting for you. DFTBA.



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