For a long, long time, Twitter has been defined by the three metrics associated with every tweet. There was how many likes a tweet got, how many retweets it got, and how many people replied to it. Now, as Twitter makes a raft of changes at what seems to be a rapid pace, it has also introduced a fourth metric: how many views your tweet got.
What is the Twitter view count?
Twitter users began noticing on Dec. 22 that every tweet was now accompanied by a fourth number underneath that reveals how many views that particular tweet got. The feature, which CEO Elon Musk promised earlier in December, was rolled out first to the mobile app, and is now beginning to show up on the web as well. It's designed to show a poster how many people have looked at their tweet, with a few important caveats.
Not every tweet will have this kind of view counts. Older tweets will not have the feature, and neither will tweets that are posted in Twitter Communities or in Twitter Circle.
It's also worth noting that, while it may be interesting for some to see how many views their tweet got, the definition of views that Twitter is using is pretty broad.
"Anyone who views your Tweet counts as a view, regardless of where they see your Tweet (e.g. Home, Search, Profiles, Tweets embedded in articles, etc.) or whether or not they follow you. Even an author looking at their own Tweet counts as a view," Twitter's FAQ on the new feature explains.
It also doesn't distinguish by account, so looking at a tweet via the web and via your app would count as two totally distinct views.
Elon Musk introduced the feature to make text and image posts more like videos.
Anyone who has posted a video to Twitter may know that the views feature is already available there. When Elon first announced that Twitter would be adding a view count to text and image posts, he seemed to suggest that he was doing so in part because the feature was already part of videos.
"Twitter is rolling out View Count, so you can see how many times a tweet has been seen! This is normal for video," he wrote on Dec. 22.
"Shows how much more alive Twitter is than it may seem, as over 90% of Twitter users read, but don’t tweet, reply or like, as those are public actions," he explained.
This transparency may make some feel bad about how little engagement their posts get relative to their view counts, but it's also a conscious move from Elon to try and prove that Twitter is still an active social networking site.
It's long been true that most of Twitter's user base engages with the site fairly passively. In rolling out a view count feature, Elon seems to be attempting to shove that fact in every user's face as frequently as he possibly can.