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How the Twitter algorithm works in 2021

twitter algorithm

In 2006 when Twitter got launched, the algorithm was structured in reverse chronological order; that is, user’s got to see tweets from the most recent down to the older ones. The saw tweets from only people they followed.

But in 2014, they started seeing both tweets from their followers and recommended tweets and topics. In 2015, Twitter helped users to keep tabs on the tweets they might have missed when they logged out of the platform through the “when you were away” feature.

In 2016-2017, Twitter started pushing what they considered as the best tweets to the top rank of their users’ feeds. They also brought the “in case you missed it” feature” in 2017 to replace the “while you’ve been away.”

In 2018, Twitter allowed users an option to choose between an algorithm organized feed and a regular feed. What this means is that they can now select if they weren’t to see top tweets or latest tweets. 

Twitter has always tried to listen to their audience when making any decision concerning algorithm usage. But like any other algorithm, Twitter’s algorithm aims to prioritize tweets they feel users want to see. Where your tweet ranks depend on how much your audience engages with it.

Every social media marketer should know how the Twitter algorithm works if they hope to increase their brand visibility and reach their target audience organically. 

Current Timeline features in 2021

Twitter’s algorithm features have revolved all through the years, and now, here are all the primary features you can find in Twitter’s timeline now:

Top tweet: since they would always look out for their users, Twitter would always include the top tweet to ensure that users get the best from the platform.

They rank the best tweet from people you follow, and contents from people you don’t follow. They also suggest people follow depending on those you already follow.

Latest tweets: they show they show users the most recent tweets in a reverse chronological manner. 

ICYMI: this features top tweets on the user’s feed. But the longer users spend on the app, the less they’ll see the top tweets. 

Happening now: this feature can come up on the top of the feed showing the latest events or topics of interest to the users. 

Trends for you: here, you get to see trending hashtags and other popular patterns. 

Twitter Algorithm in 2021 and beyond

Twitter has promised more changes in its algorithm and overall features of the social platform. They are currently researching how to improve machine learning, among other things on the platform. 

Twitter timeline ranking signals

The Twitter algorithm will continue to use the top tweet feed. And according to them,  the top tweets placed on user’s feed are about the accounts they’ve had the most engagement in addition to other considerations. Here are some of the things you should know about Twitter’s ranking signals:


They consider the latest tweets. 


Engagement with tweets is of high importance. They will consider the impressions, favorites, retweets,  clicks, and other interactions a tweet gets.

They will also compare the level of engagement a tweet receives from the user with additional tweets.

Another form of engagement is how often they regularly engage with tweets from a particular Twitter user. 

Rich media 

Another ranking signal comes from the type of media the tweet involves, which could be images, GIFs, videos, and polls. And they consider the kind of media the user engages with if it’s more of a video than a picture. 

‘Much more’ factors

The factors include the number of followers, the location, and how long a user has been away from the platform.

How social media marketers can optimize tweets for organic reach

To stay on top of the user’s mind and to increase your brand’s visibility to those that at yet to become your followers, you’ll need to ensure your tweets are driving the desired results.

Here are some ways to some ways to increase the organic reach of your tweets:

Stay active:

If you’ve decided to expand your reach to get to your target audience without ads and promotions, then you need to be consistent in the platform. Not only will this increase engagement with your followers, but it will also increase your rankings on Twitter.

When you keep tweeting, the probability of your followers engaging with your content will grow, and Twitter will prioritize your tweets to show up on your follower’s tweet if they perceive it’s the kind of content they prefer. 

Tweeting at the right time

At this point, using Twitter analytics will help you find out the appropriate time to tweet, so you don’t waste your time crafting a quality tweet only for it to get zero engagements. Find out the peak hours when most of your target audiences are online and tweet.

There might be an “in case you’ve missed it feature,” but don’t bank in it like five million other tweets are doing. You should also increase your posts during popular events. Most users come online to monitor popular activities, so it’s a good time to grab their attention too. 

Use hashtags reasonably

No, you don’t have to use hashtags when there is no purpose. But whenever you decide to use hashtags, use something brand-related that will drive engagement so that twitter algorithm can interpret it as recognition and increase your rankings. 

Add media to tweets

Tweets are only 280 characters which are not always enough to relate deep thoughts to the target audience, why not add something extra like images, gifs, and especially videos to increase engagement. Using media features are smart ways to boost engagement 

Try twitter polls

Don’t be afraid to put out questions in anticipation of answers from your users. 

Using polls would also boost engagement as long as its topics that interest users. It also helps in getting feedback from customers and brings fun and liveliness to your page. 

Reshare your contents 

Doing this helps especially when you’re not on a creative mood on a particular day. You can easily pick your top contents, repackage them, and share them again. At those who previously missed it will get to see it. 

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