I remember joining Twitter in 2009 and it was a new way to connect with people I never could ever meet. In North America it was easy to use and different enough from Facebook that I felt there was value in using both.
Now that it is a public company and after growth and profits and having been abroad for more than 2 years I find that I barely use Twitter. The simplicity and limits imposed by twitter early on made it great for broadcasting to anyone and everyone.
If your tweet had a good hashtag then anyone searching that tag would see it. Whereas Facebook focused on the people you knew or were at least more likely to know which is important for someone like me who is traveling. I feel that Twitter is more about broadcasting for many or finding and following for others.
Facebook was always more about the people you knew but being able to follow people and interests gives it an inherent flexibility that is adaptive based on how you use it. Whereas early on Twitter was pretty simple and its flexibility was gained through it’s developer ecosystem which gave people new and unique ways of using Twitter.
In Asia there are so many messaging apps that using something Twitter is a hard sell because it is much more impersonal than using Facebook, line or any number of other apps which are available.
I don’t think I know any local that really uses Twitter which I think creates a limit on how much Twitter as it is now can grow. Twitter is Western dominated and with so many public figures using other services in these countries like Facebook and those services adopting Twitter like elements the need to use Twitter is low.
With so many other messaging apps out there the people go where their friends are and among locals in South East Asia that isn’t going to be Twitter. So I can see why it has had flat growth or in some ways has receded. According to an article by the Verge “It had 320 million active monthly users this quarter” but removing SMS followers the article says “its active user base actually declined from 307 million monthly active users to 305 million.”
This has sent the stock tanking and with all the changes it is undergoing in the view of wall street Twitter is not just flat but its receding and that is a very dangerous place to be in. I hope that with their backs to the wall Twitter will be able to innovate and shake things up or risk becoming a myspace.
It’s base model is simple but that limits its flexibility with is both the blessing and curse. While other platforms don’t have such limitations and can take elements of Twitter and add their to their apps, websites and or platforms in a way that makes Twitter irrelevant for many people in the developing world where a lot of growth has occurred over the last several years.
Not every social media platform is going to be Facebook and the expectation that they should is misguided at the very least. That doesn’t mean that Twitter can’t be successful by developing new apps or adapting the core user experience of Twitter but that does mean that it will not be easy and maybe the quest for more users will end sooner rather than later.
Before I started traveling Twitter was my go to app to see what was happening around me but since I started traveling my needs have changed and while I still use it from time to time Facebook dominates my social media needs because most people I meet be it traveler or local are more likely to have it and use it than Twitter.
It will be a long road to figure out what to do to appease shareholders who think that Twitter should have the same growth and scale of Facebook. Here’s hoping they can find a way to evolve the platform and grow again maybe without the expectations it be something that it has never been (aka like Facebook).