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This article was published on December 30, 2013

Twitter appears to be testing a Sina Weibo-style ‘recommended accounts’ feature

Twitter appears to be testing a Sina Weibo-style ‘recommended accounts’ feature

It’s been a year of experimentation from Twitter, and the latest feature that the company is piloting is the option to favorite other users’ accounts.

Favoriting has taken on a new meaning in recent times. For many users it is more akin to a Facebook ‘Like’ or an act of acknowledgement rather than the original premise of bookmarking interesting content — but can it be applied to accounts too?

Former TNWer Drew Olanoff spotted an option on Twitter for Android, which CNBC’s Eli Langer suggests could work like an endorsement tool: i.e. users favorite the top accounts that they recommend other people to follow, like a permanent version of the #followfriday hashtag.

It’s just a test at this point, and it isn’t clear whether users are even notified of account favorites — but you can see how the recommendation model might work by looking at Sina Weibo, the service often known as ‘China’s Twitter’, which lets users prominently display links to accounts they recommend in the top right of the sidebar.

Here’s an example from my infrequently used Weibo account:

Screen shot 2013-12-30 at PM 01.18.16

Twitter’s Isaac Hepworth pointed out how the use of favorites grew massively after the company began notifying users when their tweets had been favorited and, as Langer points out, that has somewhat cannibalized the number of retweets a popular tweet might gain, and making it harder to acquire new users virally.

Recommended accounts could bring a new dynamic to discoverability, and, with many Twitter regulars following hundreds/thousands of accounts, it would be a neat way to spotlight your favorites.

We reached out to Twitter for comment on the feature, and its potential usage.

Headline image via Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

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