When social networks grew exponentially, Twitter joined the ride. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, SnapChat, and Pinterest also grew, but in the last two years, something happened: Twitter started losing users. DAU, or daily active users, fell quarter after quarter. By mid-last year, Twitter finally made changes. By adding NFL video content, the micro-blogging site at least brought back some traffic. Twitter still has more work ahead.
Last month, on December 29, 2016, CEO Jack Dorsey asked:
Following in the footsteps of Brian Chesky: what’s the most important thing you want to see Twitter improve or create in 2017? #Twitter2017
The response may be grouped into four themes: abuse, edit, topics & interests, and conversations.
Twitter faces a number of big problems. First, competition is heating up. Facebook already dominates the social networking space, because users are closely tied to their friends and family there. Twitter’s conversations, messaging, and interactions do not tie to friends and family. Millenials choose to use SnapChat over Facebook’s instant messaging. Worse, still, for Twitter is that this group will not use Twitter’s messaging.
Users asked for the ability to edit tweets, but the CEO said it should only allow for fixing errors. Tweets are of public record, so Twitter does not want to give too much flexibility in editing posts.
The CEO did not address the widespread use of bots and SEO accounts. In my experience, the majority of followers fit in one of those two categories. Having bragging rights for 1000+ followers means very little if they do not add meaningfully to my tweets. Tweets that are re-tweeted, replied to, or shared to real users have the highest value.
Outdated desktop page
Twitter’s mobile app is likely more widely used than the desktop page. That should not stop Twitter from updating the latter. Tweets show up in one column, leaving the left and right side of the pages with excess negative space. Just as Tweet deck, a twitter app for desktops, displayed tweets on as many columns possible, Twitter.com should do the same.
Users complained that Twitter selectively censored users based on the party they supported. Though this is a problem, the site must also do more to close accounts that send abusive messages to other users. In effect, abusive accounts, bots, and SEO accounts should be removed or banned from the site.
Topics and interests
Twitter users face one major issue: they want to represent a brand, topic, or area of interest. For Twitter, that makes suggesting topics and interests to its users very difficult. Google+ failed for the same reasons. By the time it decided to create “collections” of interests, it was too late. Twitter may still have time to repair the weak link between the individual user and the topics.
The NFL video streaming initiative is a good first start for Twitter to match users with “sports” and “football.”
Twitter’s service is well-known, but too many users do not find the site easy to use. If the company more quickly matches user needs by helping them link to great content creators, the site will grow once again.