Twitter announced their Q4 earnings of $710 Million which is a 48% YoY growth, however the markets were not happy. And rightly so. The user base for Twitter has remained stagnant at best, with 320 Million monthly actives in Q4 2015. In fact, users in US declined from 66 Million in Q3 ’15 to 65 Million in Q4 ’15.
Whether this is a temporary seasonal phenomenon or not, only the time will tell. But this does raise a few questions on the traction for Twitter and if this will grow at a sustained pace, in a way Facebook and some of the other Social Media platforms are growing.
So what ails Twitter and what needs to be done to bring back the users to its platforms?
1. Explain use cases through mass education programs
Twitter is difficult to understand and takes a while getting used to: For the average person who easily gets to use Facebook by creating a profile, following his friends and family and uploading a few pictures, and liking updates, Twitter is not so intuitive to many people. As per reports, more than a billion people have tried Twitter and not pursued it later.
This created a huge leaning bucket of users that Twitter needs to plug. Twitter needs to create a program, partner with institutions and educate users on how they can use Twitter to better their lives, grow their businesses or connect with top influencers in their domain. This needs to be a priority and done at a mass scale.
2. Push the algorithmic tweet discovery without losing focus on ‘live’
One challenge with Twitter is that if you are following beyond a certain number of people, your timeline gets flooded with various types of tweets and you will be able to follow tweets from the important few that you wouldn’t like to miss. Now if Twitter can use some algorithms to figure our what kind of Tweets I like, and show more of the kind that interests be, Twitter will become more useful to me.
Of course, I can use “Lists’ to create different groups and then check the lists often so that I do not miss their tweets, but this become cumbersome. Hence I applaud Twitter’s attempt to bring in some kind of algo to bubble up tweets, which are currently based on chronological order.
3. Focus on International markets
About 80% of Twitter’s users are outside of the US, however, only 34% of Twitter’s revenues comes from International markets. I believe that this is more to do with Twitter’s focus on the US markets, where only 20% of its users are. Take any new feature for its product or advertising, and its always released first in the US and made available to the international markets much later.
Whether it’s the new algorithmic system or the self help advertising, they are always released and tested in the US and then brought to the rest of the world. I can understand internationalization challenges from a language perspective, but they can treat all English language markets as similar and release their new features across the board.
4. Localize the product offering
I think Twitter also should localize its product offerings for instance the TV+Tweet feature should include TV programs from larger markets like India. Its good that we can check ‘trends’ for our own markets, but that local flavor needs to come in at more places.
5. Double up the anti-spamming efforts
Twitter like any popular channel is a target for spammers, and the earlier twitter plugs the gaps and loopholes in its products, the better it is. Its very frustrating if you are tricked into following a spammer and then your timeline is full with Tweets and Retweets from the same person. Like twitter has a character limit, can they think of a tweet limit? I don’t know the answer, but Twitter needs to put in motion a very sophisticated way to algorithmically identify and shut down spammer accounts.
I really like Twitter and check it 20-30 times a day, but I do think that some changes are needed to bring back its growth trajectory. With Jack Dorsey firmly in the helm of affairs, I remain very hopeful and this is one platform that I will closely monitor and use.
About the Author: Amitabh Verma is a business leader with extensive experience in Digital Marketing, Sales, Operations and Customer Service and has worked for global MNCs as well as startups. He is an MBA from IIM Kozhikode and has done his masters in Economics from the Delhi School of Economics. He is currently the CEO and Founder of AMP Digital, a firm into the online training and agency space."How Twitter Can Get Back its Mojo!",