Twitter @ 10 years young – Where from here?
Forget the stories pertaining to its demise. Put aside suggestions it can never develop a truly viable business model. It’s time to show some respect to one of our favourite social networks.
Twitter, the platform on which users post 140-character status updates about whatever is on their mind, has just turned ten years young. That means a decade of information dissemination, contact accumulation, influence building, fun spreading, and interest sharing, with brevity at its core.
As this piece on Steven Waddington’s PR, social, and marketing blog- wadds.co.uk- explains with conviction, if you haven’t given Twitter a try there are ten reasons to do it now. Breaking news stories, sharing your personality, telling stories (particularly relevant for brands and public figures), asking the world for assistance, gaining insight into places you visit, naming and shaming, making friends and influencing others, customer service, general #banter, and developing relationships in both digital and real worlds.
We’d definitely agree with Mr. Waddington on all those points. But this doesn’t address one of the biggest questions surrounding Twitter right now. Where from here for the 310million-strong social network?
This year there has been much musing on the subject. Employees given shares in the business to stop them jumping ship to more successful enterprises points to serious problems. As do flatlining new user numbers, difficult if not disastrous stock market floatations, and the 1million once-regular U.S. members of this community that left in 2015- the first time the platform lost ground on home turf.
Perhaps conversely, Twitter did manage to match its Wall Street valuation of $710million, but that’s not really the point. Regardless of whether money is being made, if ‘experts’ can’t see the potential for significant future growth it might as well be game over now.
We’re not so sure, though.
This month we ran a blog story- Everything you wanted to know about UK newspapers on social media– which makes it clear just how vital Twitter is as a media outlet for news and current affairs. Titles like Guardian and Telegraph have overwhelming, impressively engaged audiences on Twitter. Journalists are glued to tweets whilst on the hunt for stories as they happen.
From a brand perspective, we’d say Twitter has never been more important. Developments such as ‘Moments’- a constantly evolving feed that gives users a breakdown of the biggest trending stories by category- have made it even more vital to effectively jump on what people are talking (or tweeting) about in order to exploit the potential of the network. And when you do the pay off is now tenfold.
Twitter is also hugely important in creating and bolstering public figures. How many Twitter spats are stories in their own right? From music stars like Deadmau5, who seems to be locked in constant abusive exchanges with other DJs and producers on the platform, to Hillary Clinton v Bernie Sanders, the list of high profile arguments is long and distinguished. As are the speculative comments suggesting these are all PR exercises designed to secure column inches (because they do just that).
And, on the other side of life, DeRay Mckesson, the activist who rose to prominence for chronicling race-related protests in the U.S., via Twitter, garnered over 300,000 followers, including Beyonce (he’s one of only ten people she keeps tabs on), giving him enough clout to quit his job and become a full time spokesman for change. Hardly something to be sniffed at.
Put simply, then, Twitter has never had a comfortable relationship with its critics, and there have been plenty of bells tolling over the years in terms of its potential future. But on a micro, rather than macro level, the individual tales, personalities and events that are either covered on, or catalysed by, 140-character messages speak volumes about why this is such a useful tool. In short, we love Twitter, and are looking forward to spending another decade with the app in our lives.