Tweets of a feather no longer flock together

By January 12, 2016 Home Blog No Comments

Twitter’s changed. It’s not what it was. It hasn’t taken us on a journey where we flock together. I’ve felt this way about the micro-blogging site for some time now.

Twitter is was a powerful, addictive, innovative and instrumental disruptive messaging channel and social media platform. In recent years, it has become a haphazard, dispersive atmosphere of tweeps that are made up of journos, politicians, strategists, brands, advertisers, activists, trolls and ISIS. Any wonder after this week’s profit loss of $132m it is failing to meet its shareholder objectives and add new accounts in its biggest market, where it is most used, the U.S.

Where Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and others are redefining the social internet and growing exponentially, Twitter waned. Instead of re-invention and innovation it has adapted its greatest rival’s features, Facebook’s likes and polls. Twitter launched love heart “likes” and tweet “polls.” It is yet to launch it’santicipated “Lightning Moments” in Australia. So why tweet polls? It’s 2015. Facebook has been doing that for years. New users won’t flock to Twitter just to do a poll.

This week Twitter shelved stars for hearts, but where was the strategy behind launching the “polls” before “likes?” Because “hearts” represent “likes”, users flocked to Twitter to generate polls on what the Twitterverse preferred. Unanimously, the flock hearted tweets that showed polls preferred the old “favourites” to “likes” and spurned by the decision a new hashtag evolved#WeWantFavButtonBack along with countless published articles.

The strategy behind love heart “Likes” replacing the Stars “Favourites” maybe about two things, that they’re aligning the love hearts with their other fast growing app assets Vine and Periscope, where on Periscope it has proven to be lovingly successful and that Likes are more universally popular (as seen on Facebook and YouTube) than being limited by what users may favourite (Stars) in a tweet. Secondly, that new users to Twitter would find it strange to favourite tweets synonymously by tapping a star icon.

Although, Facebook doesn’t suffer criticism in the same way that Twitter does. Twitter has a public perception that tweets are ephemeral and are easily seen as partisan statements in a very public medium. Whereas on Facebook your friendship and privacy settings leads you to believe that your posts are yours, privately shared, and frankly, that isn’t the reality.

We know this because the media amplify what is said on twitter unlike anywhere else on the internet. What happens on twitter becomes news stories and amplifies issues. Confounding issues that we’ve seen in recent times such as the Arab Spring, the Four Corners live cattle trade report and other clicktivism campaigns.

Back to basics – Make Twitter fun again.

Twitter has the answer staring them in the face. It’s not a little feature or tool that is similar to another social media network. It’s their own invented assets,Periscope and Vine. If you haven’t invested your time in these apps then you should. They make you laugh, they’re addictive, fun and have the features, tools and benefits and engage users throughout the world. Just like Twitter once did. Think of the business opportunities in a real-time experiential brand moment or story.

Twitter’s text form has been its downfall after its initial fame. As discussed earlier the social risk has been too great for risk-averse users of new technologies to be able to easily pick it up. Many see the problem as “I don’t want everyone to see what I have to say (tweet).”

Therefore, Twitter’s opportunity is to integrate its assets into twitter more functionally for the user to experience. Leveraging, Periscope, a real-time live streaming app that engages audiences in a video town hall (tweeting) medium and Vine where a short six-second looping video is fun and effective to engage audiences.

Twitter CFO Anthony Noto said he was particularly excited about Periscope, “end-to-end experience around both products … making sure we’re giving creators a whole lot more tools to express themselves in a more creative way.”

Perhaps, it will be the status quo experience of how the user interacts with Periscope rather than the abundance of “tools to express themselves”. Twitter should have kept stars and added love heart likes. It has the capacity. This is where they can learn from Facebook rather than adopting similar features. Facebook was ingenious in the way it rolled out its user experience transformations. Facebook did it subtlety, used influencers to support their changes, and marketed and communicated the reasoning.

Twitter’s master plan should involve the redevelopment of its platform from the bottom up and then build it back up with its foundation and its new wings Vine and Periscope to truly transform and integrate its offering to consumers.

Twitter has become a raging flock of tweeps flying aimlessly looking for the next shiny thing to latch onto. Next time, it won’t be to rescue the whale.

Image: The “Fail Whale” is an illustration of a white beluga whale held up by a flock of birds, originally named “Lifting a Dreamer”, was illustrated by Australian artist Yiying Lu. It was used during periods of downtime by the social networking service Twitter.

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