Twitter Joanna Gearyoremus Onezero: In this blog post, we’ll hear from Twitter’s senior director of curation Joanna Geary on how her team decides which trends to summarize and how to contextualize them, more.
1. What is the role that you work in?
I am a curator at Twitter. I curate the trends feed on Twitter by choosing topics and themes to include in each day’s trending list based on their relevance and interest among our worldwide audience.
2. How do you decide to summarize a topic?
One of the ways that my team deals with trending topics is by selecting topics that we think are important and interesting to our audience. By analyzing the topics that become trending on Twitter, my team tries to understand what motivates people to share them on Twitter and what people are sharing about those trending topics, in an effort to determine which themes are important for our audience.
The topic that I curate for each day is determined by the theme that I had most recently created and published. Each day I will look at different themes and try to identify which ones are going to be something that our audience is interested in exploring more deeply. Let’s say you were interested in evaluating how protein powders were trending among women on Twitter. You could look at last week’s trends to see what was trending, and then you could use the trending topics feature in search to discover that there were a lot of women talking about protein powders. That would be one piece of information about this topic.
You’d then have to look at the conversations that are being had about protein powders on Twitter and decide whether those conversations were interesting or relevant. And from there, you’d have some indication that this should be something I want to include in our top stories list each day.
3. How do you decide what caption to add when you summarize a topic?
We have a group of journalists here at Twitter who are based in New York and London. These journalists are embedded in Twitter’s newsrooms around the world and they work closely with our curation team to come up with the spot headlines that go along with each day’s top stories list. These headlines are a quick summary of what’s happening with each topic, and we chose them to be very neutral, in part because we don’t have the facts about what’s happening in real time. Sometimes it takes hours or days before we hear who, what, where and why—especially if something is breaking news. We try to make sure that our headlines are as neutral and as factual as possible. We work with the journalists on our team to write these headlines so that they’re not offering their own commentary about what’s happening; instead, we focus on being as neutral as possible.
4. Can you talk about how you organize your curation team?
I actually oversee my whole curation team. We have 10 curators in San Francisco and we take turns covering the top stories list, each of us taking a week at a time. We handle the trending topics at the end of each day so we are working right through the night.
The way that I put together my curation team was to put together a group of people that I knew would be both interested in and well-suited for handling this work. My team is a mix of people who were previously managing editors, or were working as editors, who were interested in analytics and also interested in helping us better understand what’s happening on Twitter and how to use that information to tell stories.