It’s no secret that Twitter is the social media brand struggling with finding new users at the moment. Twitter’s influx of new users steadily trails behind their largest rival, Facebook. However, I think Twitter has forgotten one thing – people are not talking about how much they love Facebook anymore.
Instead of trying to innovate to draw in new users, they instead have chosen to replicate the favorite social medium of your Great Aunt Sally so she can see her favorite Bible verses and Trump quotes inundate her feed.
Twitter has announced they will be adding one of Facebook’s least popular features and adding a new algorithm for top tweets. This is an expansion of something they already do with their mobile app – something many of the fans of Twitter already complain about. So, in order to draw in more users, they are replicating their biggest competitor’s least popular thing. Make sense? Yeah, we know it doesn’t either.
I understand that Twitter is struggling. I was going to be one of those that invests in the fledgling brand until recently and their stocks really took a nosedive – this week trading all the way down to below $15. However, I don’t believe that your best bet in this scenario is to emulate your biggest rival – in fact this is a time to innovate.
I love Twitter, but with stagnant user growth, a falling bottom line and limited adspace opportunities, it is definitely easy to see that it is time for a change. However, I don’t see how adding an algorithm that already annoys Facebook users will keep users happy (see #RIPTwitter if you would like to know their opinion) or grow your audience further.
The trick here is to figure out the niche that you serve and serve it better than anyone else.
We already have a front page of the internet (Reddit, good lord that name is dumb), but perhaps what you need to market Twitter as is the breaking news of the internet. The reason that I enjoy Twitter so much is it is like an advance copy of the news I am about to see on ESPN and CNN, my two greatest sources for my sports and national news respectively. I hardly follow friends and family on Twitter except the ones that are actually entertaining – that’s why I have Facebook. I don’t want just a barrage of pictures coming at me left and right – I already have Instagram. What I want is the news that I can’t get anywhere else than Twitter.
I contend that the what Twitter needs is not a change to its fundamental UX, but, in fact, a change in how we look at branding its social identity. They did a good job of carving a niche and then they lost it. Get back to where you need to be and the rest should take care of itself.
This is not to say there is not a need to innovate. Innovation is the greatest tool of the web, however, to take what you think are the best pieces of other things and Frankenstein them together to what you think will create something different is not the solution. The villagers ran from Frankenstein’s monster, they didn’t embrace it.