Oh ho, Twitter. One of my favourite social networks is bleeding dry. The company’s recent quarter was a bloodbath of sorts with shares going down as much as 12 percent. The company has lost a little more than 60% of its market capitalisation from last year. That’s more than half the company’s value being wiped out!
If numbers were to go by, earnings of 16 cents per share and $710 million in revenue actually beat the Reuters EPS estimates and met the revenue. The problem with Twitter is that user growth declined sequentially, meaning, lesser ‘new’ users are getting onto twitter and the existing dormant ones are disillusioned and/or ‘inactive’.
At the core of twitter’s problem is that there’s no sense of gratification for a new user. In Facebook, you have your friends to ‘like’ ‘comment’ or ‘share’ your posts. In a sense, there’s some sort of reciprocation, and therefore, an incentive to be on Facebook. It’s a truly social network. Twitter on the other hand, is yearning for this conversation. It’s not a ‘social’ platform for the larger populace by the strictest definition because monologues are far more predominant. And therein lies the problem to acquire more users.
Unless you’re a celebrity or a popular person, the chances of you gaining followers and being ‘accepted’ are limited. New users feel timid and vague to be having these monologues with minimal followers. And from what limited followers you have, responses are even lesser, reducing the incentive to rant on twitter. This is also why politicians, journalists, celebrities, influencers love twitter — it makes for multiple dialogues because they have a base to interact with.
What twitter can do?
- For starters, how about showcasing some tweets from new/less popular users on the feeds of users who have a lot more followers. For example, 1 out of 10 tweets on Neil Tyson’s timeline can come from a new user whom Michael Jordan does not follow. This incentivises new users to join Twitter because there’s a chance of their tweets being seen by celebrity feeds. As you roll-out this feature down to non-celebs who have a considerable amount of followers, a mention/retweet incentivises less popular users stand a chance to engage more.
- Improving the data sciences of Twitter Moments. This feature was launched about a month back. Though it was not aimed at getting new users on board, it was an attempt to lure existing users. If users are clicking on links/engaging with content, it means that they are interested in that particular tweet. Similar content should be relayed on moments, which should also act as a way to show you 15–20 of the possible tweets from the day you might like and have potentially missed.
- Have a bot to navigate new users through the workings of twitter. Most new users are confused once they sign-in and find it awkward to be tweeting into nothingness. Tap into the existing phone, facebook contacts etc… and notify friends that YYY person whom you know, has joined twitter. Existing friends can then follow this person and begin interactions from the very beginning.
- Position twitter as the go-to platform for news. Twitter should be talking about how TV is a boring snooze-fest and why twitter is a place of informed views. It can be difficult considering trolls lurk about on twitter more than any other platform, but it’s also a place of debate and discussion. There’s almost little communication on the many advantages of real-time information, ability to interact with thought-leaders and sift through quality content.
I love twitter. I learn everyday from interacting with some of the brightest minds. But if the company really needs to build on these great conversations, it needs to retain talent and work on its core strengths.
Sidenote — A while back rumours were rife of Google wanting to buy Twitter. It’s not about the money needed to buy twitter. Google has $73.1 bln in cash sitting around. Instead, the company sat in the sidelines and partnered with Twitter for a few simple offerings. Nobody wants to touch the company until they devise a way to attract more users and engage on their platform. Here’s hoping 2016 will be a great year for twitter and may they ride the tide.