Before Twitter’s recent announcement that they would be expanding into eCommerce, we’d been thinking about the social platform’s place in the modern landscape. While certainly not doomed, Twitter’s outlook has seemed bleak, and its efforts to integrate shopping may be too little, too late. A few things we think Twitter is up against are detailed below.
First and foremost is the case of Twitter’s low user retention rates. Twitter has acknowledged the issue in the past, as billions of people have registered for a Twitter account, but the number of active users is only in the hundreds of millions. This could be for a variety of reasons, but one possible explanation is that new users are discouraged due to the slow nature of gaining followers and the lack of affirmation that this perpetuates. For most users, Twitter just isn’t a great platform for them to voice their opinions and actually be heard, so many end up leaving.
Anyone who tries to follow a good number of accounts will know what we’re talking about here — depending on the time of day and event/s taking place, all it takes is thirty seconds to a minute for a tweet to be pushed completely off of a homepage, rendering it far less impactful. It might not have always been this way, but the nature of Twitter has pretty much led to an escalation of an ever-increasing frequency of tweeting. Think about it logically: as more and more tweets are shared, the effectiveness of each tweet dwindles, and so users are forced to share even more frequently in an attempt for their voices to be heard. It’s essentially tweet inflation, and Twitter hasn’t really done much in the way of controlling it.
When Twitter was initially gaining momentum, the social media scene was quite different. Facebook was still relatively young and was slowly taking the place of services like Myspace, and it wasn’t until later that the Facebook status system became pretty much the clone of Twitter that it is today. Back then, Twitter made sense: sharing anything personal online was a growing phenomenon, so simply having a platform to voice thoughts was a novel concept. In some ways, it was even fun and unique to have a character limit to your posts, which caused people to be creative and succinct in their thoughts. The character limit was also more familiar to the masses who were slowly transitioning out of the limited SMS/texting era (back when we’d text things like, “how r u” and “sup” and “nothin u”). Now, though, the character limit basically just confines Twitter, and it also perpetuates the problem mentioned earlier of content overload. With that said, the one thing that Twitter is probably best for is still live updates. The World Cup this past summer and events such as an Apple press conference allow journalists to push out key highlights in real-time. But as technology progresses, and live streaming of video is more and more common, then tweets are going to seem that much more archaic, and Twitter’s core competency is going to be made irrelevant.
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