Being Socialable: UX Changes to Facebook and Twitter

Two of the biggest social media players, Facebook and Twitter, have similar challenges when meeting the needs of personal and business users. Both social network platforms aim to provide a social and a business focus and they’ve made some changes in a bid for continuous improvement.

Facebook takes a long, hard look at relevant content

Facebook’s been collecting qualitative feedback (not based on any algorithm) to help rank stories in the News Feed. They’ve tested the market and appointed a ‘Feed Quality Panel’ of over 1,000 users to rate their experiences daily when they log in. In addition, Facebook’s reaching out to vast numbers of people across the world to find out how successful they are in ranking each individual’s News Feed. The feedback rates each news story from 1-5 stars, according to how much users would like to see it in their News Feed. Facebook’s deduced that users get the most enjoyment from their feed when the content’s both qualitative and quantitative (i.e. good quality as well as attracting multiple clicks, likes and shares). Although Facebook maintains these changes shouldn’t influence page reach or traffic, the update’s still significant for the following reasons: 1. Facebook’s on a mission to look out for content that users unnaturally engage with for various reasons. This may sound mysterious but it boils down to the fact that pages will see less referral traffic if their stories are clicked on at a rate exceeding reports of how much people want to see those stories at the top of their News Feed. 2. There’s advice from Facebook to publishers as the best way to avoid false engagement, saying they shouldn’t encourage people to click multiple times on content (or pursue other false promotional actions) since this causes popularity to temporarily spike, which will be counterbalanced over time by a diminishing ranking to the feed. Facebook already censors content but hopes this new initiative will lead to greater relevance still. Some see it as discouraging sensational or advertising-oriented content that gets people to click, through intrigue, shock or curiosity. While such content will always attract attention, it won’t score highly in qualitative terms. The changes can only be a positive step for Facebook as higher quality and more relevant posts will triumph, reinforcing the social dynamic of the site and ultimately boosting advertising revenue by ensuring users are happier and better engaged. Facebook promises to empower publishers with ways to increase referral traffic, while reminding them that meaningful content matters most.

Twitter tries to stay loyal to its users

Twitter has introduced a tool called Twitter Moments, so users can see and participate in the latest trends influencing their connections. However, the new feature introduced in the Autumn of 2015 has had mixed success. Some users feel it isn’t very authentic and Twitter hasn’t completely succeeded in combining the social with the business side of things in Moments. So far, Twitter has been hesitant to differentiate too strongly between the social and business sides, for fear that its users may feel alienated by an ‘us and them’ approach. Now’s a critical time for Twitter, with change on the horizon if the proposed lift of the 140 character limit goes ahead later this year. As Twitter approaches it’s 10th birthday, the world waits to see what will develop.


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