The future of Twitter

Today, we know that millions of people register on Twitter and then just as quickly leave, never to return again. But why does this happen? Perhaps they don’t feel that they ‘get it’; feel that they are unable to find anything useful on the platform; or simply grow tired of repeated information across their feeds. Trying to decide who or what to follow can take some time, and people may just find that their feed is ultimately filled with information that they don’t really find useful; they may not see the value of having another platform. Then there is the issue of privacy. While previous generations have been somewhat naive about what lives online, today people are far more careful about what they say in the public domain. They may not feel comfortable commenting in public for the whole world to see.

Users are not the only ones struggling to find Twitter relevant, we know that advertisers are too. A study earlier this year suggested that users felt only 17% of promoted messages were relevant to them, further supporting the sentiment that there may be little or no value in a user’s feed. However, a simple solution to this would be increasing the user data captured from the platform. For example, currently even gender is implied on the platform based on the type of accounts a user follows. It would not be a big imposition to gather simple demographics, like date of birth or gender, during the registration process or by prompting current users to update their information. More insightful data could also be grouped into scalable audiences for advertisers to target more efficiently. Small steps like this would certainly increase Twitter’s targeting capabilities for marketers, and perhaps provide users with information that is more relevant to them.

Unfortunately, the decline in interest and perhaps relevance has led to Twitter’s stock prices dropping to an all-time low, losing nearly half of its value since early 2014. But I’m confident that not all is lost. Twitter is too powerful a platform to simply disappear. Also, its beauty lies in its simplicity. By making it easier for users to find information that is relevant to them – via sorting tools and grouped recommendations – the platform may be able to revive interest. Short tutorials on use, as well as suggestions on the types of accounts you may want to follow (not just recommended accounts), may also help. For instance, users may decide that they will use Twitter for industry news, sports updates, keeping up with live TV shows or to simply follow their favorite celebrities. Understanding what users want to see on their Twitter feed is key to helping them find some value in Twitter. In this way, Twitter can carve a niche for itself and differentiate from the growing number of social media platforms that keep on surfacing. There is definitely still room for Twitter though; as someone once told me: “LinkedIn is for people you know, Facebook is for people you used to know, and Twitter is for people you want to know.”

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