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BLOGViewpoint: The End of Twitter?

by Randall CraigFiled in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Risk, Social Media, ViewpointTagged as: , ,

Putting aside the use of Twitter by certain politicians, media, and perhaps so-called influencers, is Twitter in its death throes?

It certainly wouldn’t be the first Social Media death. Consider those who have come (and gone) before: hellotxt, retaggr, timely, booktour, Google wave/reader/orkut/iGoogle, LinkedIn Polls/Answers, and many, many more.

Here’s the argument:

1) Encroachment by messaging apps: Twitter’s functionality is being nibbled away by a number of more compelling competitors. Twitter is not the only game in town anymore.  Direct messaging apps, for example, make it really easy to have point-to-point (or group) conversations. Every message on iMessage, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and others means one less Tweet on Twitter.

2) Encroachment by social apps:  Many Social Media apps have effectively duplicated the status and microblogging functionality that previously was only available on Twitter. LinkedIn and Facebook are most notable; Facebook has even incorporated hashtags and trending topics.  Every status update on Facebook and LinkedIn is one less Tweet on Twitter.  At the same time, even though Twitter’s claim to fame was the short text message, it was not able to claim the crown of short video: TikTok literally came from nowhere to do so.

3) Learning curve limits growth: None of these competitors are hampered by Twitter’s arbitrary 280 character limit, nor are they required to learn the arcana of hashtags, DM’s, Retweets, and more.

4) Commercial viability: As a public company, Twitter’s finances and stock price have plummeted from a high of $69, to below $20, and eventually in the ~$40 range.  But beyond Wall Street’s valuation, are there other commercial factors that suggest Twitter is teetering?  Here are a few: where are the advertisers, and where is the growth in users? And is the staff complement growing or shrinking? How about a full-time, dedicated CEO?  On all of these dimensions, Twitter appears on shaky ground. It was late to the advertising game, and will never catch up to Google and Facebook. The number of monthly average users is relatively stagnant. And there has been significant disruption in the management ranks.

While a counter argument may be made in Twitter’s defence (existing momentum, huge behavioral database, direct connection to media, growing usage by certain politicians) does Twitter’s condition merit a change of strategy for those who use it? Our recommendations:

  • Seek to capture the Twitter relationships within a CRM, Marketing automation, or email system. While this should be standard practice already, it is also an important defensive move.
  • Broaden the user engagement across different social platforms. Twitter isn’t the only game in town anymore, so it shouldn’t be your exclusive playing field either.
  • Tighten the purpose of using Twitter. For example, rather than using it as a general purpose social platform, use it exclusively for customer service, media outreach, and risk discovery.

Twitter has successfully extended the “texting” metaphor to the web, and whether it lives or dies as a business, no one can argue its influence.  But again, no one could argue the influence of MySpace either, and look where that platform ended up.


This week, consider the “impossible”: how would your marketing and engagement plans change if any of your key social platforms shut down?

Marketing Insight: The core issue is not about Twitter or any other specific platform: it is all about two things: ensuring that you have a mechanism to discover the platforms where your target users are spending their time, and then using social as an on-ramp for driving their commitment.  In other words, fish where the fish are.

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