The Void That Twitter Could Leave

Mitch JoelPosted by

Dear Twitter, please don’t go.

These are dangerous times for Twitter. The public markets are no longer in love (their market cap has been dropping). Their leadership is changing (it is being questioned and executives have been departing). Their users are curious (yes, there are millions of people still looking at Twitter daily, but are they really using it?). Many have written about the struggles of Twitter. Should it be acquired? Can it ever regain its pace of growth? Is there are place for Twitter or have Instagram and Snapchat become the darlings of the day? Is Twitter really a feature and not a platform? There’s more. It goes on.

What Twitter does.

Twitter is the “now” feed. Facebook is the “now-ish” feed. There is something strangely smart about the Twitter algorithm that allows it to be a quick burst into what’s happening now. Search your city, follow a brand, check out a news source, see what’s happening while you’re at that conference. Case in point: this week, I presented at Hubspot‘s massive Inbound event. Apparently, there were close to 19,000 attendees at this sold-out event. Who is there? What’s happening? What’s happening now? What did I miss? Sure, Facebook might provide some of these insights. I would have to be following/friends with people who are attending, or brands that are taking part (you don’t see much in your feed beyond that). Still, Facebook’s newsfeed isn’t really live and in the moment. Their algorithm curates your friends, throttles the brand page content and while it is fresh… it is not now. By simply looking on Twitter for either mentions of me or the hashtag #INBOUND16, you can see the pulse of the event, the feedback, and more unfold before your very eyes.

Most people don’t use Twitter this way. This is Twitter’s true gold.

From what the data suggests, people hop on Twitter and flick through the feed. What are my friends saying, what are celebrities saying and what are the brands that I follow saying? They’re not really creating their own tweets, they’re hardly retweeting, and if there’s something meaty within a tweet, they’re more likely to leave Twitter, check out that piece of content and (here’s where the irony is) share it on Facebook. For users like me, it’s all about the search. For the vast majority, it’s all about the being a voyeur. Twitter is less about engaging and connecting in 140 characters (or images or video), and much more about a news ticker that crawls along your life, in a more personalized and customized way than the annoying ones that we see scrolling across the bottom of our screens, when we’re watching CNN

The data is gold. The real time is gold. 

What would be the substitute for this real time news ticker, that is customized for us around the people we’re interested in, the brands we want to connect with and the celebrities that we want to creep on? Better than that, what will substitute as the place that people (like you and me) can go to for a better understanding of what’s happening in the now? Would Facebook take this idea and create a separate tab that opens up the content hose, so that you can see both your friend’s and brand’s status updates, while being able to search through it for events in the now? It seems easy enough. It seems to make perfect sense. They’re not doing it. 

Let’s not let Twitter go.

Many of my peers believe that Twitter won’t go away simply because it is too engrained in our lives. I don’t comply with this thinking. Twitter is susceptible to going away like anything/everything else in our world. Twitter’s ability to clean up the platform, make it easier to engage with, tweak the features to create more value… and more will not be an easy fix. This is, literally, like trying to change the engine while the plane is in flight. So, we need Twitter for all that it provides, and yet, it seems to no longer be a burning platform for the mass population. If this were not the case, the numbers would not be stuck where they are.

I’m not sure if Twitter can change the engine in flight. I am sure that I will miss what it brings to my day. How about you?