The date was March 21, 2006.
On that day, Twitter officially launched itself into the stratosphere. It would take a few years for pop culture to truly grasp and understand the network, but by 2011 Twitter would be worth more that $5 billion dollars.
The backstory behind Twitter is a fascinating one. Ultimately, the story took a big turn in 2008 when co-founder and CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, was fired. Reports claim the firing was in response to the many outages Twitter would experience due to high user volume. For those of us who remember, we used to call this the “whale fail.”
Oh the good old days. 🙂 This image brings back memories.
Recently, Dorsey was put back into the CEO position and has shaken the company. Employees have been laid off and numerous changes have been made but so far, it doesn’t seem to be helping.
The point? Twitters user base has declined for the first time since the companies inception. Twitter’s user base declined from 307 million to 305 million in the three months before 31 December.
The company has released documentation in an attempt to prove that these lost users are what as known as SMS users, and are not high-quality users. But the market isn’t buying it and Twitters stock has dropped 13%.
Why Is Twitter Losing Users?
There is lots of speculation to this question. However, I have some answers for you. In order to understand the present, we must under the past. So a quick history lesson.
The reason why Twitter got the jump in the first place was because it won on mobile. Before Facebook-owned the mobile world and before Instagram even existed, Twitter was born and raised on mobile devices. It was an open forum for actors, comedians, thinkers, marketers and everyone in between to openly discuss their views.
What made Twitter great was that anyone could talk to anyone about anything at any time. Unfortunately, that may be the reason for Twitters seemingly inevitable demise.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see and understand the rise of abuse within Twitters interface. The term “troll” exists simply because of Twitter. Competitive social sites like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat have been extremely proactive in regulating spam and providing quality content to its users.
Facebook is always tweaking its algorithms to reward quality content and to demote spammy or abusive content. We haven’t seen any of that from Twitter. Once again, the “anything goes” mindset no longer works with today’s savvy web and social users.
What Does This Mean For The Rest Of The Social World?
In researching this news, I came across an article written by HBR, regarding Twitter downfall. The article drew on some philosophical viewpoints about the world of abuse. The author claims that as a society we are used to being abused. Taken directly from the article…
We internalize the lessons of abuse, becoming little abusers ourselves. We expect to have to mistreat our customers, exploit our communities, bully our peers, cut corners, manipulate our colleagues, bail on our obligations, package the lowest common denominator at the highest possible price as a miracle-in-a-can… not just if we want to get ahead, but merely to anxiously tread water. And though it takes different forms, abuse is essentially what’s being piped through the tubes of the internet, or through the headquarters of VW, and into the water of Flint, Michigan.
I can certainly relate to the writer’s viewpoint, except I disagree with his statement. I would argue that the reason for Twitters downfall is exactly the opposite. From the millennials to the baby boomers, people are no longer accepting spam, abuse and hatred within their online entertainment. This is even expanding within our society. Bernie Sanders is proof of this.
Twitter is by far the social platform with the most “trolls.” That’s not to say that abuse doesn’t exist elsewhere (YouTube comments are a great example). However, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat all do a great job of rewarding content creators who add value to the platform. The proof is in the pudding. Trolls don’t get followers on these platforms like they do on Twitter. In fact, the trolls are now being ignored.
Users are now more protective of their accounts and the platforms that will continue to win are the one’s that will give control to the end user. With this control, we will continue to see trolls and spam being ignored.
What Is The Lesson To Be Learned?
I see two major takeaways from Twitters downfall.
First, let me be clear that it is too early to call a complete Twitter collapse. I predict that many improvements will be implemented but ultimately, I think Twitter is going to continue to get beat by Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
The other takeaway is just a reiteration to what we have been saying all along. If you do not add value to people’s lives, they will not pay attention to you. The first step of any online marketing campaign is audience building. In order to build an audience, you must add value. In order to grow an audience, you must continue to add value as well as build community. In order to keep an audience, you must nurture your audience with relevancy. If you fail to do this you will see your audience move onto the “next big thing.”
Is this not exactly what happened with Twitter? People are moving on to what is providing them with relevant, useful content.
The second you fail to add value, is the very second you lose your audience. An omen to all.
Please Pay Attention
Unfortunately, this is where we see most people ignore the advice. It takes most people a few rounds of failure before finally moving on. However, the people and companies that see this is a less and an opportunity are the one’s who will come out the next 5 years with a profit and a victory.
Stop spamming. Stop interrupting people’s mobile experience with pop up adds and disruptive commercials. Add value, build an audience and you will succeed.