Twitter Experiments


Twitter has been speeding up the experiments they run on their platform recently. From a recent blogpost:

"A common thread across recent releases has been experimentation. We’ve tested various features with small groups of our 200 million users before determining what we’ll release. These tests are essential to delivering the best possible user experience. It’s rare for a day to go by when we’re not releasing at least one experiment."

Some of the most visible Twitter experiments are new accounts that they have created: @magicrecs, @eventparrot and – the latest addition – @magicstats.

@magicrecs is a useful account to follow. If you follow the account, you receive "instant, personalized recommendations for users and content via direct message." So, if three or more people you follow all follow the same account in a short period of time, you’ll get a DM from @MagicRecs with a message along these lines:


The account is really useful for discovering new and interesting people to follow, and "makes it even easier to follow what you care about, connect with people and discover something new on Twitter."

@eventparrot sends "direct messages that help you keep up with what’s happening in the world":


For me, this account is less useful. Unlike @magicrecs, which is tightly aligned with your interests, news is harder to make meaningful for everyone, all the time. Which means most of the DMs I’ve received from @eventparrot are largely irrelevant and ignored.

It would be great if the @eventparrot account would DM trending stories based on the news account I follow (e.g. @BBCNews) rather than a random, global news account that I don’t follow (e.g. @NBCNews). This may be on the cards for Twitter already, and hopefully this small tweak would mean a more meaningful experiment.

The most recent Twitter experiment, @magicstats, is intriguing – especially as it’s a private Twitter account (for now).

The Next Web explains how they think it might work:

"When a user tweets something that the service thinks will go viral, it favorites the tweet within a few minutes of it being sent. In both instances where @magicstats favorited our tweets, they received well over 100 retweets within a few hours."

It looks like @magicstats might be more of a trending tweets account,  picking out tweets that are being shared a lot in a short space of time (this is how the "thinks will go viral" element likely works), then tweeting them out again to help those tweets gain more traction.

I think it will be a useful way to discover new content that isn’t being shared by my Twitter network, so I’ve followed @magicstats  and will see what happens once my follow request is approved (current status: "pending").

Of course, there’s lots of Twitter experiments we don’t see:

We also experiment with features that may never be released to everyone who uses Twitter. Those experiments are perhaps even more valuable because they help us decide what not to do –– which is important as we work to keep Twitter simple while improving the user experience.

But of the visible ones, @magicrecs, @eventparrot and @magicstats are worth taking a look at.

Oh, and you should follow me on Twitter too.

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