Few people understand what happens when a company goes public. We watched how Facebook maneuvered an ever increasingly heated spotlight, and now Twitter is undergoing the same.
In this piece Nov. 11, 2013 in Advertising Age, “Twitter’s task: Getting new users to understand it,” it seems the biggest issue Twitter has with new users is its complexity.
To follow this line of thinking, go back to the very first tweet you posted. Perhaps you need to go back to the very first time you logged in and saw a blank screen with some stranger popping up to say hi. Were you as nervous as I and almost backed out?
There are still people who don’t engage on Twitter because they believe the common misnomer that it’s a bunch of people talking about what they eat and where they go to the movies. We in the know, know better, right?
Because Twitter is now publicly traded (NYSE: TWTR) with a valuation of more than $20 billion and a 73 percent “stock pop” (says Ad Age) on day one of trading, it has to think differently about how to behave:
- Attract more of the masses (a major hurdle)
- Onboarding new users and making them feel comfy out of the gate
- Reduce consumer churn – the rate that new users drop off in a short period of time
- Increase advertising dollars for marketers who want proof the users are there to click through and make a buy
Take a look at Twitter’s number of users in the U.S., says Advertising Age:
- Q1 2013 – 48 million monthly active users
- Q2 2013 – 49 million monthly active users
- Q3 2013 – 53 million monthly active users
Facebook has three times the scale. At the end of Q2 2013, it boasted 179 million monthly active users
It’s like comparing apples to oranges, however, because look at the skill and understanding a Twitter peep has to communicate. When you read tweets from accounts trying to sell, they’re awkward. Engagement and relationship building are the keys to earning followers; Facebook is about existing relationships among friends you already know. Not so Twitter.
It’s because of Twitter that I have a new network of true and real friends I’ve met IRL, spoken with on the phone, engaged with on Skype, and hired into my business. Not so Facebook.
There are so many ways Twitter can be used to enhance knowledge of the world.
When there is a natural disaster like the ones in New Orleans, Haiti, the Philippines, New Zealand, and elsewhere, Twitter comes alive with tweets around the world providing updates about the crises and how peeps can help. Not so Facebook.
The hashtag is finally coming into its own as a way to follow conversations; its now in use by Facebook AND Google+. We owe that to Twitter as the first channel to adopt hashtags; I think I first began hashtagging #RockHot in August 2010, and all the threads of tweets featuring that phrase I created are documented. Pretty cool.
What I’m hoping doesn’t happen with Twitter as it has with Facebook is the social channel’s intense need to put advertisers first and revenue above service. We who have been around since the early days know quite well the quirky and secretive nature of Twitter with a tribe mentality.
It’s too bad Twitter will change itself to appeal to the masses who don’t and won’t get it (although I’ve heard from a lot of moms that the kids are hitting Twitter in droves and foregoing Facebook). Groups of young boys (about freshmen age in high school) are forming Twitter accounts and buying followers to gain immediate traction.
Perhaps Twitter needs to look within among users who already prefer the channel over the others instead of trying at this late juncture to appeal to those who won’t get it to also thus appeal to marketers sinking advertising dollars into the channel.
Time will tell…