Twitter Starts Rolling Out ‘While You Were Away’ Feature
Twitter has been facing challenges in bringing back its 500 million logged out users. Not only that, the social media is also having hard time growing the base itself as it faces new user retention problems. As a remedy, Twitter announced couple of user engagement features back in January. One of those features — ‘While You Were Away’ — is now rolling out to many users.
The feature was initially made available for some selected users, but it has now been rolled out to significant number of users. TechCrunch believes that a full roll out is coming soon. However, Twitter has declined to comment.
This feature was announced along with ‘instant timeline’ which is also expected to arrive in early 2015. ‘While You Were Away’ looks at the best or most popular tweets during the time you have been logged out of Twitter, and then presents those tweets to you on top of the timeline so that you don’t miss important or relevant tweets.
“Every time you open the Twitter app, you’ll see something great,” the company said of the new feature.
It is the first major non-chronological feature to hit Twitter and works much like Facebook’s Timeline. Some people got the feature on New Year’s eve, while some received it in the first week of December. It appears Twitter has been testing this feature for over a month now, and the tests have shown good results for them at least.
That is because some people find it relevant or interesting, though some are confused on how this works or why is it even needed. Here are some of the reactions of the people who have received this feature:
"While you were away"? Come on Twitter…ain't nobody got anything that important to say pic.twitter.com/a8zkDUJEDY
— Swaggy D (@wakaflockaLEN) December 4, 2014
Twitter got a while you were away section now?.. Uh I guess.
— Meisha (@itsTRUU) December 30, 2014
That twitter 'while you were away' thing just means I tweet people three days in delay!?! What is it's purpose!?!??
— and_ (@and_armstrong) December 30, 2014
Love the 'While You Were Away' feature at Twitter. Achieves its purpose without affecting real time news feed!
— Samir Selman (@selman) December 30, 2014
This "while you were away" option on Twitter is next level.
— LWSDX (@HardHeadLew) December 4, 2014
So we cannot really say that the feature has been a success. But it is a good move from Twitter and it will be interesting for those people who do not frequently use Twitter as they will not be missing popular tweets from their network.
The success of this feature depends on its algorithm’s ability to curate those tweets that are relevant to the user. If the user doesn’t find anything interesting in the popular stories, the feature is most likely to fail.
There are some services, Nuzzel for example, that gather popular stories from Facebook and Twitter and present them to the user in a pretty decent manner. We hope Twitter’s algorithm is as effective as these services.