I was a laggard in adopting and using Twitter. At first, as an expat, I followed all the major news sources so I could log in and see what had happened in the world, and then I expanded my followings to the various digital marketing and SEO/AdWords personalities. It was great for the purposes of expanding my professional knowledge and getting insights into problems and solutions, especially within the SEO/AdWords industry, which at the time was being hit by Penguin and other Google zoo animals.
More recently my patience with twitter has waned. I am now faced with the reality that the more people I follow, the less I actually get out of using Twitter. Unfortunately, us marketers are very good at exploiting, over reaching and becoming a nuisance on any channel that will have us. And, having read that you may have identified where my personal Twitter experience has all gone wrong, but in the following I will expand on important issues beyond just my own personal experience as to why Twitter is a truly failing social networking platform.
1) Automation works better than REAL use of twitter.
In the last 3-months I have used dlvr.it to automate a single post per day from all of my most favourite marketing news publishers. After years and years of tweeting my own posts and thoughts on industry developments, as well as personally engaging with other twitter users with countless retweets and favouriting; the results are in. My Klout score has increased from 42 to 46.2 in less than 90 days. It’s not much, but it’s a more steady increase of retweets, favouriting & engagement beyond what I was achieving organically, (as a human) in the past. The hashtags haven’t changed, just the curation of content. As a result I am being followed and added to lists daily, and there is virtually no comparison between using Twitter as a human, and automating your posts. That’s an astonishingly sad state of affairs. I’m more popular on Twitter now and I’m not even logging in.
2) The advertising platform is ineffective and not returning value.
I’m a fan of most advertising platforms. I’ve clicked on facebook ads, I’ve clicked on AdWords ads, I’ve clicked on Display banner advertising. Twitter’s sponsored tweets and the like, have failed to gain a click from me to date. My opinion aside, when the Twitter advertising platform was launched it entered the market with a ridiculous minimum spend threshold, and was presented to me at an agency level by twitter account managers & sales reps who pitched it like they were selling a used car. We couldn’t put the initial Twitter advertising product in front of a single client. And it’s Twitter’s reach that represents the ‘lemon’ in this car yard.
Twitter has approximately 300+ million active users posting 500+ million tweets a day, give or take the fake, automated, and spammy stuff. User growth is slow on Twitter, with poor active user uptake, and this is providing poor revenue performance. The recent revenue performance has resulted in a significant share price drop which was well documented at the end of October 2015. Meanwhile, Facebook comparatively has more users, better user growth, more ad formats, is attracting more advertising spend, and offers a very positive & strong mobile app advertising platform on mobile.
The Twitter advertising platform lacks innovation. Google ingeniously bolted a contextual advertising platform onto it’s popular search engine. And, how that platform has continued to offer a low barrier for entry for business owners (of all shapes and sizes) and marketing professionals alike; Twitter has seemingly failed to innovate and do something new. There seems to be a missing groundbreaking method of reaching the audience on Twitter, beyond what is comparable to facebook who offers for a bigger, slightly more engaged audience.
3. The TROLLING & online BULLYING is horrific.
The Twitter platform is rife with abuse. So much so an Australian celebrity’s wife is donating a single dollar for each hateful tweet that is directed at her. Susan Carland is Muslim, an Academic and is married to popular Australian TV personality Waleed Aly. The hatred, and vile abuse across twitter is a disgrace, and this says as much about the Twitter platform itself as it does about the nature of people online.
It was funny watching (on whatever late show it was) celebrities reading out hurtful tweets directed at them. Partly because those presented tweets were laughably stupid or inappropriate for the sake of comedy value. And maybe because many celebrities are directly public facing entities, it’s relatively easy to accept this trolling and abuse as the reality of their profession. However, when you are not a celebrity and getting trolled, and abused on social media, it is the failings of the platform. And Twitter is failing badly in this context.
3. It’s not who you think it is tweeting.
If you’ve follow celebrities on twitter, it’s all a bit stock standard isn’t it? The best example I’ve seen is the famous Soccer/Football star Wayne Rooney who used to tweet his own tweets. The results were epic. He even managed to tweet abuse to himself.
The reality of this is related to my 1st point about automation, but most celebrities or key industry influencer’s aren’t just automating and scheduling tweets by remote, they aren’t even writing the tweets themselves. Wayne Rooney’s PR agent is handling his twitter now. And, I could also suggest here that conversations over twitter, with the exception of golden nuggets of customer-service gone wrong, are usually crap, and not worth the virtually-public space they exist in.
4. Twitter has turned it’s back on Content Marketers & Publishers.
From around November 20, 2015 – the ‘Twitter Button’ will get a new look. Some hipster designers have crafted something amazingly bland, plain, boring and we’re all supposed to be excited and impressed by it. It is destined to be forgotten nearly 2 minutes after you notice the difference in design. What you probably won’t forget is that during this amazingly trendy and barely necessary design change, is that the API that displays & counts how many times an article has been tweeted will be no more. The results of this are:
- Any article that had a high tweet count courtesy of the twitter button won’t display a count, and won’t look as popular.
- Anyone looking at URLs/webpages and trying to a find out how many tweets they had can no longer get this information. “Q: My blog article is getting how many tweets? A: uhhh…?”
- Marketers wanting to tell clients that their content marketing effort saw any kind of spike or decent twitter coverage can no longer get or provide this information. “Q: How’s that infographic doing, did it get much social traction? A: On facebook and everywhere other than twitter, I can confirm that it went viral!”
Twitter has announced this, copped a whole bunch of flack, has no alternative solution (beyond using their recently acquired GNIP platform to get similar data for approx $3,000 US a month.), and no resolve to listen to an entire user/marketing audience. You’ll find more comments regarding the twitter count API change here. I’m not prepared to say marketers will abandon twitter immediately, and in numbers that matter. And that’s mostly because this happens to marketers all the time, and we continue to push through the changes we may even partly be responsible for. What did I say about us being an exploitive lot? Remember when Google analytics stopped providing keyword data? When the organic reach of your facebook posts plummeted? Marketer’s aren’t allowed to have their cake and eat for too long!
Google plus is a bit a flop, right? But for Google to make money out these ventures, the mechanisms are mostly already in place. Their advertising display network can be bolting onto almost anything. Not just websites, and mobile apps. So if Google plus isn’t part of the long term strategy for Google in years to come, they may not be at a substantial loss as a result. If Google plus was to somehow take off, or matter – there’s an advertising revenue stream ready and waiting. Twitter on the other hand, comparatively has a sub-standard advertising platform void of innovation. They clearly aren’t listening to the marketers already operating on their platform, and I dare say they’re not even really listening to the tweets on their platform. I’d love to know what percentage of tweets are in fact just straight-up offensive abuse?
Twitter is apparently likely to expand it’s 140 character limit on tweets. Changing the essence of a tweet, but I expect this to be an attempt produce an innovative advertising format. So you can pay to get your tweets in front of more people, and you will likely pay to publish longer tweets. Is that it? In my opinion Twitter wrecks of corporate marketing myopia, and it’s drive for profitability will likely dramatically change the eco-system it’s original adopters are so loyal to. But I’m not convinced Twitter’s future is particularly bright without ‘taking the blinkers off’ and seeking real innovation that both it’s audience, and the marketers on the platform can embrace and marvel at.