Twitter currently has some 284 million users across the world, which makes it a true social media giant. Now, it is finding itself at something of a crossroads. If it wants to stay relevant, it has to do some innovative things. However, it seems that rather than doing that, Twitter is trying to be like Facebook. And this could be a sign of an early death. However, they can still turn things around.
What people really like about Twitter is that it allows them to feel related to celebrities and Z-listers. Sure, people follow their friends and businesses, but it is mainly an opportunity to find out what celebrities are up to. Journalists, for instance, will use it to get the scoop on a variety of things; often, being they’re quicker than a news website.
However, the issue that Twitter is facing is that they need money, and they are struggling to find a way to do that in line with its user growth.
That user growth figure is crucial for investors because advertising accounts for 90% of Twitter’s revenue. In Q4 2014, Twitter reported that its advertising business brought in roughly $432 million in revenue. That was a 97% increase from the previous year.
Investors want to see cash flow and Twitter attempts to do that through a variety of ways. The first method is by promoting tweets, which means you see tweets that you may not be interested in. The second method is about paid hashtags, forcing these to appear as a trend. Finally, they are advertising on profiles themselves.
Although these three methods work, they don’t work well enough. Twitter has a huge competitor – Facebook – and this competitor is starting to make Twitter completely irrelevant. We know that in social media, the biggest thing in the world can quickly become extinct. Very few people even remember MySpace, for instance, which was once the biggest social media platform out there.
One of the issues is how to target a young audience. A lot of young kids do not want to use Facebook, as that is the platform their parents use. However, rather than going to Twitter, they are turning to different types of apps, like Snapchat and Instagram.
For tweens and teens, Instagram — and, more recently, SnapChat, an app for sending photos and videos that appear and then disappear — is the opposite of Facebook: simple, seemingly secret, and fun.
Twitter is struggling to do anything new and fresh. They tried to allow people to share and like Tweets, in the same way as Facebook posts, but this didn’t work at all. Looking back at MySpace, their final days were spent trying to copy Facebook in full. They did this because they wanted their users to move over there, not because they were hoping that they would be revived. Hence, Twitter copying Facebook is perhaps something like committing harakiri.
Twitter now also offers a “While You Were Away” option. However, this is really just a copy of the News Feed in Facebook. Twitter users don’t want to see this. They want to see the quick-fire Tweets that the platform is known for.
The reality is that if Twitter becomes too much like Facebook, they will dump one of them, as there is no point doing the same thing across two sites. And the reality is that people are more likely to choose Facebook in that case. What Twitter needs to do, therefore, is come up with something truly new. They need to understand future trends and build on that.
Facebook, for instance, is trying to host content on their website. This means people can read blogs without actually giving their traffic to another website. This, however, is something other websites aren’t too happy about. What Twitter could learn from this is that they may want to go back to the future by using a type of RSS feed. By doing something like this, they could kill three birds with one stone: offer something new yet tried and tested, host adds and hence keep providers happy, and offer something new and fresh to their users.