These are challenging times for Twitter. CEO Jack Dorsey is facing down a senate eager to redistribute the media power exerted by social media platforms including Twitter and Facebook.
Meanwhile several of the platforms biggest talking points face imminent retirement. The U.S. election and the sitting President will be memories by the Spring. COVID-19, another massive driver of content and engagement is on a similar trajectory.
Out with doom scrolling, in with the new boring. And not a moment too soon.
Ok, there’s much more to Twitter than Donald Trump and the pandemic. It’s the wittiest place on the planet and one of the few channels that can make me laugh out loud these days.
It’s also where I go to read the news and even get to hang out with a celebrity or two. That’s no boast by the way. Twitter is just more democratic in the way it connects people, whatever the number of followers, compared with other platforms.
So what is Twitter’s real problem?
Take a look at the latest statistics and one thing leaps out. Twitter has 330 monthly active users. That falls to 145 million when you check the daily figure. That’s peanuts compared with Facebook and Instagram whose 10 figure audiences are the envy of every channel on the planet.
The numbers are even more problematic when you look at how many people actually post content compared with simply listening. In short, Twitter is a crowded, noisy platform where a relatively small number of accounts generate massive volumes of engagement.
Faced with all these challenges, it’s no wonder the platform has chosen the end of 2020 to test and launch a cluster of new features. First of all, Fleets. These are Tweets that have a lifespan of 24 hours so not dissimilar to Snapchat and Instagram Stories.
The thinking goes that too many Twitter novices are scared to post content, especially when your timeline is full of posts that have hundreds of likes and shares, and when every other account seems to have 10,000 followers or more.
Personally, I’d find it useful as a way of filtering out my eclectic, non-work-related posts keeping my profile page for professional content. But as a way of encouraging newbies to participate it makes a lot of sense.
Give me an edit button. Now!
And now Twitter is also exploring the possibility of a dislike button (rather like a downvote on Reddit). Granted, this emerged during a Twitter conversation featuring Kayvon Beykpour, Twitter’s Product Lead. Although we have heard similar murmurings in the past.
Me? I’m one of the masses of users crying out for an edit button. Twitter’s compact format encourages quick-fire posts but and when your day job is a content-copy expert, any spelling or grammar error is a strict no-no on social.
I’ve lost count of the number of times, that I’ve copied a duff post, deleted the original and then pasted the corrected replacement.
Finally let’s not lose sight of Twitter’s biggest innovation this year, the platform’s decision to flag misleading information. According to Dorsey, Twitter applied labels to “over 300,000 tweets from October 27-November 11, which represented 0.2% of all US election-related tweets.”
Important steps, but quite what the platform will look like when the U.S. Presidential Election rolls around again in four years’ time is anyone’s guess. A lot different, that’s for sure.