Is the Twitter on the brink of death after only a decade? Will it join Myspace in social media heaven? Or is the return of Jack Dorsey going to restart its faltering heart?
We at Brightspark investigated for you.
My Personal Experience
Ask around and people are saying they are spending a lot less time on Twitter recently. In my own experience, I am dabbling with other platforms (see Snapchat), and have come to find my Twitter feed to be a bit boring really. It’s full of content marketing and social media people. It only really excites me these days when I search by hashtag. This is the price of having followers grow to a certain size making it unwieldy to engage by the stream, forcing the use of lists. Lists mean one more click, and yet another thing to be managed. Thus, the downside of success on Twitter is that it becomes harder to access the thing you came for.
Twitter revolutionised the idea of short-form communication with its 140-character limit and became a platform for live and vital content.
Since its birth, Twitter has been the go-to network for real time news. From the Boston Marathon bombings to the Arab Spring, right through to the cultural institution that is #latelatetoyshow, Twitter has brought us eyewitness reports and have given us an unedited look into the world’s tragedies as they actually happened. Twitter was the delivery function of something real and raw. And oh how it was exciting! (Disclosure:♥ Twitter was my first love on social media ♥)
But now, I fear, Twitter has begun to decline.
Let’s first look at engagement: monthly active user figures are down, average time spent on Twitter is down. Instagram has outperformed Twitter for engagement since Q4 2015.
It’s interesting to note that most of the top performers are video oriented. Twitter does not make it easy to post videos, not as easy as Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat.
According to data from Syndacast, videos will be responsible for 74 percent of all internet traffic by 2017.
Morgan Stanley reported that users spend 2.7 minutes daily on Twitter, compared to the 30 minutes they spend on Facebook.
Twitter is finding it harder to attract new users and it also has a problem with keeping its current users active and engaged. Nearly 25 million of Twitter users have an account – but many aren’t using them.
Reasons Why Twitter Use Has Dropped
While Twitter was once glorified as a digital town square, the Harvard Business Review is now comparing it to a raging mosh pit! Twitter’s attempt to address this with an algorithm hasn’t worked. The new timeline algorithm seems to actually reward the noise, and to put the most engaged tweets to the top, which kills the essence of the platform by removing your ability to get heard, even if you’re not an influencer. This has left many people feeling irrelevant as the formula deems them unimportant and has even seen #RIPTwitter trending worldwide.
- Trolls invade every social media platform like locusts, but they seem to be particularly bad on Twitter. Whether it’s racial slurs, insults or rape and death threats, some parts of Twitter are simply not nice places to be.
- While other platforms deal with this, indeed Facebook has very strict policies in place when it comes to dealing with abuse – report, investigate, delete. But Twitter doesn’t. It has a very lax stance on abuse, which some might even say has fostered a culture that allows this to happen.
- Even former CEO Dick Costolo acknowledged it, in a leaked internal memo “We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years.”
People Don’t Like The Proposed Changes
Twitter is proposing lots of other changes, but it feels a bit like ‘throw everything at the problem, and something might stick”. This is the case with the proposed change in the 140 character limit, which will see it increase to 10,000. Yup. You read that right! Twitter hasn’t released any justification for why, but it’s likely it is looking at Facebook Notes and LinkedIn Pulse. It breaks my heart to see them abolish their niche of loose and fast updates in favour of becoming more like Facebook.
The core value of Twitter is its real time streaming. This needs to be celebrated, not overlooked.
There is no other platform like it – it should not lose this.
Tweet Today, Snap Tomorrow: Is Snapchat Replacing Twitter?
- Snapchat’s growth is exploding, while Twitter’s growth has all but come to a grinding halt.
- In April 2016, for the first time Snapchat surpassed Twitter for daily active users: 150 million for Snapchat vs 140 million for Twitter.
- As for advertising, Snapchat has only just begun its monetisation efforts and yet it is already earning revenues of €33 million.
A lot of people are comparing Snapchat with Twitter and saying it’s all over for Twitter. But I think that’s just because Snapchat is growing, and Twitter is on the wane. It’s not really accurate to compare the two. One is a microblogging platform, the other is a social messaging tool.
But Snapchat is a fast and easy way to communicate, and its 10 second images and videos make it immediate and exciting. Snapchat is a far more visual medium than Twitter. Both what they have in common is a similar unique selling point – sharing live experiences en masse.
Twitter: A Eulogy
I used to equate Twitter to being similar to a giant cocktail party. But logging in now feels a little like visiting a rundown pub on a Tuesday afternoon. A quick look around, at the decaying space and the empty barstools, I roll my eyes and back out in search of a more vibrant and exciting place to spend my time.
Occasionally fights break out, stirring up some drama. But once that quietens down – everyone goes back to staring into their own drink.
No one is listening. No one is engaging.
Can Twitter Survive?
Twitter will not die of natural causes: I would rule it as more of a murder. An innovative social media tool that has been killed off slowly by the demands of Wall Street investors and the underperformance of a management team. After former CEO, Dick Costolo, upped and left amid cheers from investors, many thought reinstating Twitter co-founder, Jack Dorsey, as CEO would be the saving of the company. But to date, he has delivered disappointment – Twitter’s stock has fallen a further 60% since his appointment in 2015. And the prospects look grim.
Twitter doesn’t need a complete overhaul, it needs an underhaul.
Strip off the fancy new updates and bring it back to its core: real, raw and vital content.
That, in addition to a structured abuse policy, could kickstart this dying platform.
Oh, and if they feel like adding in an edit button, I won’t complain.
Tell us what you think in the poll below!
Is Twitter dead to you?
— Maryrose Lyons (@maryrose) June 15, 2016
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