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Twitter Gets Personal

The first two substantial Twitter updates of the year – the Local Trends feature and updated Suggested Users List – may help make your experience on Twitter a little more personal.  Let’s take a look…

The new Local Trends feature allows you to see what conversational trends are popular near you.  As of last week, however, there are currently 15 cities available for users to select.  Dallas, Houston, San Antonio… Three cities from Texas, but no San Diego?  I’m sure America’s Finest City will be one of the next cities added – they can’t ignore our TwitPower for long – but in the meantime, let’s move on to Twitter’s other big change.

Two weeks ago, the Suggested Users List on Twitter was overhauled to recommend tweeters based on categories of interest, instead of just their perceived popularity.  This is a departure from just having a standard list of people users are encouraged to follow, most of whom are talkative celebrities.  Those lucky few celebrities and others on the list got to appear on every new users screen, and most saw astronomical jumps in the number of users subscribing to their tweets (The Guardian went from having 4,000 followers to 66,000 followers in the one month after being put on the list, according to Twitter Counter.)  Needless to say, folks like Scobleizer and myself were surprised we were not on the list, and began to have feelings of jealousy, anger and self-loathing.  After all, Twitter was giving those tweeters an unfair advantage – free advertising – while we were working hard to build a solid base of followers.

For the most part, that’s changed now, although the feature still has room for improvement.  When I looked through the music category, for instance, I still saw an assortment of artists whom I have no interest in following.  Perhaps my eclectic taste in music messed with Twitter’s complex algorithms.  Perhaps I don’t follow enough people.  Either way, the change does make things more organized, which is good news – especially for new users.  Maybe coupling the two new features together, once they’re launched to everyone, will give me local artists, politicians and sports stars I’ll be interested in following.

For marketers, knowing where people are and what they’re interested in can be very helpful, so do these changes signify Twitter getting more marketing-friendly?  I’d say it’s two small steps for the Twitterverse, not a giant leap.

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