Twitter CEO Biz Stone has recently announced that the company will definitely be getting rid of the Suggested Users List, which may have a long term effect on bloggers that use Twitter to gain traction or network on the microblogging site. The Suggested Users List is a feature on the site that provides basic recommendations to new users. The “SUL” has been a topic of heated discussion because of its ability to influence new users’ initial activity on the site, essentially helping or hurting a Twitter user. So with Twitter’s decision to get rid of this feature, the question remains: what will this mean for bloggers that use Twitter to promote their online publications?
Those bloggers that did make the cut onto the “SUL” benefited greatly from the default recommendation, as it acts as a direct nod from Twitter as to which users would be best to follow. In many ways, a major objective for a user could be to land a spot on the “SUL” in order to become a more recognizable Twitter user, in turn gaining a lot of return traffic to their site. Getting rid of the “SUL” limits bloggers’ opportunities to do so, from a blast marketing standpoint.
For the successful, Twitter’s “SUL” offers a pretty amazing opportunity for a blogger to gain a lot of new followers, most of which will see that blogger’s updates from their own online publication, in addition to the potential for traffic redirection. For those not on the “SUL,” such success could be more relative. Even those that have established themselves as successful bloggers had a hard time knowing how to get on the SUL” and recognized he potential for this Twitter feature to actually hinder their blog’s status when it comes to promotion via Twitter.
As a topic of heated debate, the “SUL” has derived a great deal of controversy in its ability (or inability) to provide a fair analysis of its recommendation process. That process has been a challenge for many bloggers, which could pay off vastly in the end. Depending on how you look at things, Twitter’s decision to lose the “SUL” could be equally as helpful or hindering as having the “SUL” at all.
There is, however, a catch to Twitter’s recent decision to drop the “SUL.” Twitter plans on replacing it with a more algorithmically-based recommendation system. This new system will reportedly align with individual users’ needs when registering a new Twitter account, recommending users to follow based on their interests. Twitter has not reveled any details regarding the way in which this new algorithm will work, and how it will assess the needs of users’ for recommendation purposes.
This planned feature is actually something that I have recommended on several occasions, as it would provide a more accurate list of recommended users to follow. This could be determined by asking users which topics are of interest. An even easier option would be to connect with another social service that already knows a users interests. Pulling from this existing list would minimize the need for users to offer up more information upon registration, and the cooperative manner in which this latter option could provide would simplify the process for both users and Twitter.
For bloggers, the silver lining is that a more custom recommendation process means that potential readers are likely to be the type of quality users bloggers seek. Instead of striving for the reclusive spot on the current Twitter “SUL” a blogger can stick to their primary areas of interest and attract the right kind of readers. If executed properly, the new Twitter recommendation system could help more bloggers in a more effective way, connecting bloggers with readers that will create longer-lasting relationships and correspondence across the social web.