Twitter has been on an announcement binge as of late, and assuming it’s factual, and not just a bunch of's all very relevant to marketers. 

As our Social Media Manager Matt Owen has already pointed out we get a lot of traffic (and hence new members) from Twitter, so these changes to search history and mobile search experience are important to us. I did some A/B testing with the old iOS app, and then the new one and came away unimpressed however. Twitter PR, feel free to send someone our way to correct any inaccuracies!

According to Twitter, upgrades have gone into effect on mobile that put "Tweets, user accounts, images, news, related searches, and more - into a single stream of results."

Beyond just a new UI, the Twitter engineering team went through great length in the post linked to above to explain that "burstiness" (hey -- you can't make this stuff up) will weigh into each content type to predict the most likely content that should surface for a query.


So basically, this is more of the same old message for content marketers, but specific to the Twitter platform: get influential (i.e. people with a lot of followers) people to share/discuss your links and they will surface first in search.

The design/UI changes

As you can see from the screenshots below (both taken from the iOS app on before upgrading to ver 5.3 and one after) the only difference to the appearance of search results is that media (photos/videos) have now been moved up top, and the link to switch to user accounts (or people) got buried a bit further down. Whoa!! Slow down're losing me with your innovation. How much are you paying these devs??

Does new Twitter search actually work?

I must admit I've always been a bit baffled by Twitter search. Never really found it helpful or useful for finding new information leads or people related to a subject matter. Why else has an entire industry popped up around "influencer outreach."

But hey, I decided shiny new release, lets give it its day.

We actually had a perfect test case for this in part of our marketing plan for the new industry awards we are hosting: The Digitals 

In order to help online buzz/chatter (specifically on Twitter) around the awards, we created a "Superstar of the Week" leaderboard around the hashtag: #thedigitals, and thanks to the startup powering it (Leaderboarded) as well as our own social media management, we know quite well who has been tweeting/discussing the awards the most using this hashtag.

So off I go to see who Twitter recommends for the search:

I can safely say with full assurance, that Twitter search is useless, as not a single one of these people is up on our board, or has tweeted the hashtag #thedigitals over the last 3-4 weeks.

So Twitter, tell me, why am I seeing these people and not my tribe??

Ryan Sommer

Published 14 February, 2013 by Ryan Sommer

Ryan Sommer is web veteran and recovering expat who contributes to Econsultancy on startups, content marketing and new media. You can connect with him on LinkedIn, follow him on Twitter, or add him to your circles on Google+

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Comments (2)


Phillip Marquez

Without knowing more information I am going to assume that:

1) A significant amount of "weight" is given for having "digital" and variant spellings in your name or handle

2) tweet volume for #thedigitals is lower than some of the others on the search returns

3) more weight is given to _established_ memes/themes/personas

In another words, I would assume that a person doing a search for a somewhat open and generic term (or at least one with an open and generic root like "digital") is looking for something already established with other users showing interest (tweets and possibly searches).

While I agree, Twitter search pretty much sucks, I don't think your example (actually, this article about your example) does anything more than garner some link juice for the project itself. On the other hand, I think it would have been interesting to see how it stacks up with something on more even ground or perhaps a bit more obscure.

over 5 years ago

Ryan Sommer

Ryan Sommer, Freelance Consultant

Hi Phillip,

I appreciate this feedback.

The post began with me trying to wrap my head around what was actually different in mobile Twitter search through the iOS update, and then I agree, it took a bit of a left turn!

I don't really understand your #2 though, because if I enter a search: "thedigitals" not "digital" and there is an existing hashtag with plenty of action/discussion going on around it, it stands to reason that the people who are making that noise should come up in that search.

Not a single one did.

over 5 years ago

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