Twitter is in stalemate. Not only financially, not only structurally, not only in terms of growth. Most crucially, Twitter is facing an identity crisis, meaning that CEO Jack Dorsey and its entourage don’t know who they are anymore, and so don’t the 320 million current Twitter active users. Users are bound to the Twitter ship which has already hit a huge iceberg but could manage to save (al least) some of its fleet.
Communication Expert Jon Worth sums up the Twitter wreck situation nicely in his piece “Twitter and publicness“, drawing upon another article by Danny Yadron “Why do normal people struggle with Twitter.” In particular, John points at Twitter’s main specificity: there is no difference from saying something and tweeting it. What you say it’s out there. Just the recipient changes.
It’s like when you tell somebody a secret about your crush or that embarrassing moment at your best friend’s stag party. You shared a secret and you think it won’t spread. And you know what? Most of the time it does. And the same is on Twitter. Even if you have a few followers and never think what you say will fly and be seen by loads of people. The infamous story of Justine Sacco can teach you otherwise.
John says “I’ve been aware for a long time that something that is normal for me – standing up and speaking in public to a crowd of 15, 150 or even 1500 people – is not at all normal for the vast majority of the population.” This is as simple as it gets. Not everybody is naturally prone nor interested in public speaking (because that’s what Twitter is). I now find zillions of social media experts that on a daily basis advocate that Twitter needs to go mainstream to survive…but does it actually?
Survival doesn’t depend exclusively on users’ pool and growth and frankly a “more mainstream Twitter” will simply not be Twitter anymore. In a previous article, I asked whether Instagram should (or not) maintain their original engagement model, that still keeps it unique (the upload being only available via mobile and the actual absence of proper third party apps). Following on to that, I am asking you “Should Twitter maintain its original model?”
Twitter has three main problems:
- Lack of identity: Dorsey and co. need to figure out what they want Twitter to be, in order to also stop this media avalanche that doesn’t seem to get a brake.
- Content saturation: There is simply too much stuff published. People start thinking there is no added value in posting since they have to struggle for a slice of attention of a cake that got way to big, too soon and with too many ingredients. This is atcually where the real Community Manager steps in and builds networks that go over mere the publication of content and move towards actual community building (which can no longer exclusively rely on online relations but needs to create a bridge between digital and traditional networking)
- It needs an anti-spam policy: Contrarily to Instagram, there are thousands of Twitter management apps out there. Some are helpful in facilitating community management while others just facilitate spamming. They need a clean up.
If Twitter managed to create a clear cut dichotomy between content creation and content consumption they would certainly be more appealing to wider audience. This can only happen if they adjust the three points I mentioned above.
What is your take? Where should Twitter go? Should they resist, adapt or should Dorsey buy himself out and start something new. Two years ago twitter value was estimated at $45 billion. Now it’s about $10 billion. Maybe Dorsey lost his train ticket on the sales central station.