It’s almost impossible in 2017 to find anyone who says that they have not heard of Twitter. When Twitter was at its peak in 2008 it was predicted by some analysts to surpass Facebook in the total number of active users…………that didn’t happen. Instead, Twitter kept moving forward on the same road it always had been and even became the centerpiece for numerous political debacles in the 2016 Presidential Election. Even though social media (as we know it) is just a bit over 10 years old many of the social media giants like Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube have been continuously evolving and adding new features to meet the needs of their users. Twitter has not. However, to truly delve into why Twitter hasn’t changed in over 10 years let’s take an abbreviated look at the company’s history.
A Short History of Twitter
Twitter was first created in 2006 by Jack Dorsey. Dorsey’s initial idea for Twitter was to create an SMS like platform where groups of friends could keep up with what each other was doing based on status updates. On March 31st, 2006 Dorsey issued the platforms first Tweet that said, “just setting up my twttr”. In July of 2006 Twitter was officially opened up to the public to use. By the time of the 2007 South By Southwest (SXSW) Conference more than 60 thousand Tweets were being sent daily. In November of 2008 Twitter officially passed the 1 billion Tweet mark making it one of the most widely used social media platforms next to Facebook and YouTube. During this period of growth the users of Twitter themselves began to introduce new concepts into the platform. Initially, there was no way to reply to someone or tag someone else in a Tweet. Some users began using the @ symbol before writing someone’s name in the Tweet to mention them. This same thing happened with the use of hashtags to determine trending topics on Twitter. Twitter ultimately built these functions into the platform and they have become integral parts of the service. In March of 2009 Twitter turned three years old and grew by more than 1,382%. In October of the same year Twitter officially passed the 5 billion Tweet mark. Also in 2009 a photo of the US Airways plane that crashed in the Hudson River wound up on Twitter before it been revealed on cable news networks marking Twitter’s significance in breaking news stories. Since then Twitter has not experienced any significant evolvement or growth as a social media channel. In 2017, the platform still stands as it did in 2006; an SMS like microblogging platform for people to share status updates instantaneously.
Twitter Facts (as of 2016)
-310 million monthly active users.
-A total of 1.3 billion Twitter accounts have been created.
-44% of those 1.3 billion left the platform before ever posting a Tweet.
-29.2% of US social media users are Twitter users.
-391 million accounts have no followers at all.
-83% of the world’s leaders are on Twitter.
-80% of active users access the site via mobile.
-$500 million people visit the site each month without logging in.
-500 million Tweets are sent each day.
Why has Twitter remained stagnant?
To be honest there are many possible answers to this question. However, the most logical answer boils down to a large number of executive shake-ups that have occurred over the past few years. In the Fall of 2015 Jack Dorsey reclaimed his throne as CEO of Twitter to try and recapture what Twitter began as amid all of the corporate turmoil. Other analysts point to Wall Street and Twitter’s expensive price on ads. Recently, Twitter’s quarterly earnings have been on the decline and it’s stock price has been relatively flat. Twitter’s solution to its ads problem is trying to prove to companies that their high price on ads is worth it, but the problem itself comes down to measurement to actually prove if Twitter’s ads increase revenue. Most of Twitter’s ad revenue comes from mobile device usage, which for Twitter, stands at 89% of its total user base. This makes it tough to track which ads actually lead to sales and which ads do not. Twitter as a platform has also looked relatively the same with no new added features since the platform was launched. When consumers start using a product or service they expect what they are using to evolve and adapt to changing consumer tastes. Facebook has done this by investing in video (specifically 360° video) where video alone is predicted to compose more than 70% of total internet usage in the next 2-3 years. YouTube has capitalized off of the willingness of many companies to pay large sums of money to have a 15-second ad displayed on a popular YouTube channel. In any case Twitter is losing marketshare and fast. However, tt is interesting to note that most of today’s breaking news or explosive social media trends originates from a single status posted on Twitter.
What does the future hold for Twitter?
The future of Twitter is uncertain. If the company continues on its current trajectory it will continue to lose marketshare as a primary social media channel. Companies like Facebook will continue to evolve and add features that people will want to use. The fact of the matter is that people still want to use Twitter, it’s just boring. Until the company can move beyond its corporate hurdles and begin investing in what users want Twitter may just descend into the world’s largest database of inactive profiles. MySpace anyone?