As you can see in this screenshot, Twitter has launched a new custom timeline for TV show ‘The Bachelorette’, which will enable selected fans to follow along with topic-specific tweets, via an alternate news feed in the app.
The Bachelorette timeline, created in partnership with ABC, will be available to a small group of people in the US and Canada for 10 weeks, the duration of the show’s season. Some users who already follow topics and handles related to The Bachelorette will be prompted to add the new timeline, which will provide an easier way to stay on top of related conversation in the app.
Twitter’s still developing its custom timeline approach, which will eventually see third-party providers able to create their own tweet feeds, which they can then curate – manually or automatically – to help maximize engagement around certain topics.
“Custom Timelines are curated feeds. These feeds may be created by third-parties who select and provide content around interests and events, or by Twitter based on general insights. For example, the Popular Videos Timeline created by Twitter, uses similar information to how we select topics to populate and order video content.”
The streamlined topic navigation, with alternate feeds accessible via a left swipe, will make it easier to stay up with topics of interest, as opposed to having to look up hashtag feeds yourself. Hashtag feeds also won’t be as customized as these lists, as those feeds are just a bulk load of all the tweets that include your chosen term.
Custom Timelines are built with their own algorithmic parameters, which will make them an entirely unique experience in each display.
Interestingly, former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey endorsed pretty much this exact approach to timeline management last August, when he outlined how he uses third-party tool ‘Vicariously’ to curate a stream of the latest tweets.
I used @getvicarious to create and sync a list of all accounts I’m following, set that list to be reverse chron, named it “Latest” and pinned it, and now I can quickly swipe between ranked (algorithm) and all tweets as they happen
Which, at the time, seemed odd. If this is a significant enough UI problem in the app that you’re in charge of, why not fix it internally, and provide a better user experience?
In fairness, Twitter has provided various options to pin alternative feeds already, including a ‘Latest tweets’ timeline, making it easier to switch between different feed displays.
But this new process expands the potential of this process, by enabling companies and individuals outside of Twitter to create and curate entirely new feeds.
It’s early days yet, and there are still various factors that Twitter will need to build in to facilitate full algorithmic functionality within these swipeable streams. But it is one of the projects that Twitter is looking to develop, and one which potentially incoming chief Elon Musk is also keen on, based on his tweets.