To: Chicken Little & Friends; Re: Twitter

By: Gary J. Nix | Reading Time: 5 min

Image courtesy of Walt Disney Feature Animation

Dear Messrs. Little, Hudson, Finster, Dorsey et al.,

When it comes to Twitter, the sky is not falling.

Yes, I realize there has been a recent onslaught of articles and discussions based on the idea that this platform is losing credibility, of little use and needs to do something dramatic to retain its space in the social media ecosystem. However, I'd like to bring up a few talking points to refute the claims of your platform's alleged untimely demise. 

You may not have all the people, but...

For many who say there are issues, the "reasoning" behind the blue bird's impending doom is often based upon the fact that there are only 320 million users. Yes, I said only. I say "only," because naysayers like to compare Twitter's user base to Facebook's 1.6 billion, Tumblr's 555 million or even Instagram's 400 million. Apparently they, and possibly you fail to realize 320 million people is still A LOT of people. While growth, which is important, may not be taking place at the desired level at this point, do not let others diminish an audience with a significant size and many passionate power users.

Twitter rules real time

I may be biased, but as much as the other channels are trying to make big headway in the real time arena, can't nobody do it like you, Twitter. Real-time news, real-time activism, real-time conversation & chats and real-time connection. I can't even count the number of people I've met and become good friends with, whether virtually or actually, due to first connecting with them on Twitter. And, let us not forget the big events, particularly the ones coming up in this month of February: The GRAMMYs, The OSCARs (or #WeAintWatchin & #OscarsSoWhite) and the Super Bowl. These large scale events bring large numbers of users to watch and participate in the conversations around them -- better than the other channels do. You are built for this.

...and speaking of the Super Bowl...

We're still talking about this

This tweet took place three years ago. That might not seem that long ago to some, but in digital years, three years equates to approximately 2.397 millennia (not to be confused with millennials). Name me one moment, to date, on any channel that people still talk about three years later AND still try to duplicate. Don't worry, I'll wait...

Thus. it is important to realize that the rumors of Twitter's demise are greatly exaggerated. With that being said, there are a couple of things that Twitter should and should not do to stay afloat and, more importantly, prosper.

Define the platform

The most common issue I hear from those who have yet to join or really use Twitter is this: they don't get it. To be honest, when I first joined Twitter at the end of 2008, I didn't really get it either. What do I do? What do I say? How does this work? 54,000+ tweets later, I can't get enough of it. I, with the help of other Twitter users, was able to figure out what Twitter means to me. However, I might be around 74,000+ tweets now if Twitter did a better job of explaining who they are, what they do and their USP (unique "selling" proposition). The clearer you are about your offering, the easier it is for a consumer to make an intelligent and positive decision regarding using your service. This is included in BRANDING101. So, go back to basics, embrace your USP and explain that to prospective users. Your power users will gladly help.

Be yourself a/k/a do not got to 10,000 characters

Do not pass GO, do not collect 10,000 characters; go directly to Twitter jail. One mainstay of Twitter is the 140 character count. It was defined as a method to push brevity in each individual message and, in my humble opinion, it would be ludicrous to make that drastic a change. Granted, there has been conversation around increasing the character count since I joined and the conversation has clearly resurfaced. That's not to say there is no way to improve the ability to maximize the number of characters you can use in a tweet. The first attempt, TwitLonger didn't really stick. Perhaps you find a way to not count the 23 characters in the URLs for links or images as part of the 140. Maybe that'll help...

Whatever you do, do not increase the character limit more than 7000% on the public platform. It's fine to have it that way inside of direct messages, but outside it breaks the unique user experience  and, possibly, the platform itself. You are not Facebook. No one wants you to be Facebook. We already have Facebook. We want Twitter.

In closing, you should now see why any apocalyptic claims should be dismissed along with any panicked decisions that at best only possibly fix short-term issues, but at the very least cause much greater long-term ones. Keep it simple, guys. Play up to your strengths and eliminate weaknesses. Listen to your users, you have 320 million of them right now. Take care of them and they will take care of you more than they already do.

Sincerely,
A Fairly Gruntled Twitter User

cc: Failwhale