Twitter has had its share of serious issues crop up over the last several years. Businesses and individuals are starting to sour on the platform. The company itself is in turmoil as well. Departing executives, a slowdown in user growth and a general confusion over how to position the platform for the future leave the future of Twitter in question. How has negativity, competition and lack of direction sank the good ship Twitter?
Users are finding more rewarding experiences elsewhere.
Since its launch in 2007, Twitter has been popular with news outlets, celebrities, and politicians but it never seem to catch fire and reach the mass market appeal of Facebook, which at 1.6 billion users is five times the size of Twitter. Instagram now boasts 400 million active users. Snapchat, the social media flavor of the month, boasts 100 million active users but has all the momentum in the world. That’s not the case with Twitter. Twitter has gained the reputation, fair or not, as the nastiest and meanest of all the social media platforms. Users report harassment and negativity more frequently with Twitter than with any other social media platform. This ‘no win’ world has caused many to rethink where they spend their energy. Instagram has an engagement rate at 50x more than the average on Facebook and 60x more than Twitter with a sliver of the negativity. The negative user experience and more engaging products haves soured individuals on Twitter. As of today, Twitter currently stands at 310 million users with an estimated 50 million who are active at least once per month. Users are finding more rewarding experiences elsewhere.
It died on the Vine.
“It”, of course, refers to your content. When Vine launched in 2013 it completely took off, becoming one of the most downloaded apps on the planet. Vine was a groundbreaking and novel idea at the time. Allowing users to share short personal videos got users hooked. But the six- second time limit and an user interface completely separate from its parent Twitter were red flags. Now, in 2016, Snapchat has taken the personal video ball and ran with it. Facebook has more videos uploaded to it every day than YouTtube. Instagram has since added a video option, one that allows for multiple takes, cuts, and editing. A year ago Vine was routinely in the Top 5 most downloaded apps, now it sits at 200. Marketers and ad buyers have followed this exodus and now Vine basically consists of dedicated users and people promoting their other pages.
Twitter is more than 10 years old and the company has never turned a profit.
Some would argue that not all is lost at Twitter. They do own Periscope, which goes in the complete opposite direction of Vine. Where Vine allowed for 6 seconds of footage, Periscope allows for endless live streaming. But there are only 10 million users and 2 million active users per month. It’s yet to catch on and people just aren’t that interested in watching someone else live stream their day.
Twitter also beat Facebook, Yahoo, and Amazon for the rights to broadcast NFL games live next season. This is a little puzzling considering they don’t have a streaming service on the Twitter platform. Yes, they have Periscope, but just like Vine it is a separate operating system and requires a different app entirely. Twitter touts that the NFL interactive experience will get people tweeting more than ever, but how do you live tweet on a platform that’s being used to stream a video? While Yahoo had success with its NFL streaming service last season, Yahoo isn’t a primarily mobile service. It’s not too much of a stretch to hook up your computer to an HD television or watch a game on your laptop. How does America’s most popular HD television program translate to your smart phone? This is yet to be seen. While Periscope feels like a platform or an idea that is incomplete, the NFL deal feels out of place and reeks of desperation.
Did I mention that Twitter is more than 10 years old and the company has never turned a profit? I'm a big believer in momentum. It can't be measured and it can't be quantified but it is real and it can make or break anything. Should you sell your Twitter stock? Not if you're shorting it.
- Michael Dennis, Digital Strategist & Content Creator