The Power of Suggestions

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Hi, I’m Josh and I work in the product team at Twitter. One of the areas I’m working on is helping new users get started so they know how to find and discover what interests them. Today we’re making the first of many changes here to help people ease into the twitterverse by finding and following accounts that interest them.

Two of the biggest challenges for new users have been finding accounts to follow that appeal to their interests, and finding their friends and colleagues who tweet. Over time, we’ve learned that by making suggestions of who to follow, we can help users get going more easily on Twitter. In our new design, we’re taking some steps to continue to improve this process. Once a user signs up and selects what they’re interested in, we show them some accounts that relate to that interest. Next, we help them find their friends and colleagues by checking their address books, and third we give them a chance to search for anyone we or they missed in this process.

The Power of Suggestions
We’ve found that the power of suggestion can be a great thing to help people get started, but it’s important that we suggest things relevant to them. We’ve created a number of algorithms to identify users across a variety of clusters who tweet actively and are engaged with their audiences. These new algorithms help us group these active users into lists of users by interests. Rather than suggesting a random set of 20 users for a new user to follow, now we let users browse into the areas they are interested in and choose who they want to follow from these lists. These lists will be refreshed frequently as the algorithms identify new users who should be suggested in these lists and some that are not as engaging to new users will be removed. We also have a set of “Staff Picks” that are manually selected by Twitter employees as some of our favorites. Given the recent tragedy in Haiti, we’ve also created a special “Staff Picks for Haiti” to get updated news and content on what’s happening there.

We’re really excited about this change, and look forward to continually improving the experience for all users to discover the best content and get the most out of Twitter.