Twitter’s value has been trending down for a few years now as stock plummets, key figures leave, and users flee the platform at an alarming rate. There are many different ideas about how best to fix Twitter, but there are three definitive things the company needs to improve on if they want to stick around.
Keep Users on the Platform
Twitter needs to address how to keep users on their platform for longer periods of time. Since August 2014, average tweets per day have been halved over the last 18 months, believed to be due to younger users, who generally tweet more, leaving the platform for Snapchat and Instagram. The company’s long-term goal should be to lure those users back, but right now, they need to focus on keeping their current users.
In order to keep users on the platform, Twitter needs to keep them in-app. Many users tweet out links to content, leading users away from the app. Advertisers have always had a difficult time finding value in Twitter, but when links take users away from the app, it lowers their effectiveness. Twitter needs to adopt a similar system to Facebook’s Instant Articles and Instagram’s in-app browser so users click on links that open right in Twitter. Keeping users on the platform makes advertisements more clickable because it won’t be an inconvenience to the user.
Another way to keep users on Twitter is to increase the character limit up from the traditional 140 characters. The proposed 10,000 characters limit might be a little extreme, but the idea would keep users on the platform longer. By increasing the character limit, more users will be able to say what they want without having to link to another platform. Content-rich tweets would help Twitter take advantage of their agreement with Google to show up first in Google searches and it would help create a lot more analytical data they could use toward advertising.
Continue to Focus on Live Content
Young users want authentic interactions on social media, and though Twitter is losing users to Snapchat and Instagram, it can still compete. Twitter has created the Live search option to filter the most recent tweets. They also designed Twitter Moments to help people find the content that matters more easily. However, these features–and Twitter in general–need to be more customizable to individual interests, otherwise content curation is useless.
Twitter’s ownership of Periscope also gives them a unique opportunity to leverage live content to strengthen the Twitter brand, but so far, full integration has yet to take place. The live video feed platform should allow users to stream right from the Twitter app. It would forward Twitter’s goal of authenticity and tie both platforms into a more robust package for the younger audience. Periscope has a lot of potential locked away inside it, and Twitter needs to tap into it.
Do Something to Prevent Abuse
When former CEO Dick Costolo admitted in an internal memo declaring that “we suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years,” abuse on Twitter was already out of control. According to Pew Research, 40% of adults on Twitter have experienced harassment while younger users 18-24 have experience harassment at an alarming 70%. Umair Haque believes that abuse is the single biggest issue Twitter faces today. He argues that “When a technology is used to shrink people’s possibilities, more than to expand them, it cannot create value for them.” This leads to users fleeing the platform, like many already have, once they no longer feel online harassment is worth what Twitter offers them.
Twitter has always been slow to act against harassment, if they ever act at all. Gamergaters, Men’s Rights Activists, and even more controversial and hateful groups are allowed to operate on the platform, leaving users with few options but to run and hide, since Twitter isn’t coming to save them. Thankfully, they seem to be getting the hint and are creating more policies to allow for better policing.
There is no easy way to fix Twitter. By focusing their efforts to stabilize the platform and retain the users they have now, they can keep the product viable long enough for them to expand their reach. It might be a long project, but every road back needs to start somewhere.