It’s amazing how quickly bad news or rumours travel. Something in the human psyche gives a turbo boost to negative stories. We have a strange compulsion to share and be the harbinger of doom, aided by the multiple social media platforms at our fingertips.
Ironically it’s one of the most prominent of these platforms, Twitter, which appears to be at the heart of a current storm raining stories of corporate unravelling and demise.
The truth is Twitter is like any business and if you trade for long enough you will go through a variety of cycles and fortunes. The first flush of launching the enterprise on the world, investment, growth, recruitment, competition, compliance, governance, profit concerns, executive fall out, re-organisation, innovation and resurgence.
Of course businesses do fail and in our socially connected world the “crash and burn” can be accelerated but I get frustrated when unqualified comment feeds a frenzy of ill-informed negativity.
Twitter is certainly going through challenging times, highlighted by last year’s return of Jack Dorsey as Dick Costolo stepped down as CEO having held the role for 5 years. The company has been criticised for having lost its direction, connection with users and allowing other platforms such as Facebook from stealing a march in innovation and monetising methods.
There have been other high profile departures and since Dorsey’s arrival, hundreds of redundancies. Now an emerging controversy over technical changes to the site. The latest furore is due to the announcement of a change to the algorithm which will affect how posts will appear. Rather than seeing a list of tweets of those you follow in clear timeline order they will appear in order of relevance rather than simply strict time order. This is something Facebook has already introduced and has had its own critics.
The reality is one of the biggest strengths of Twitter is its immediacy. Fans of the medium point to the fact they can always find out what’s going on with regard to pretty much any topic by searching its content by keyword or hashtag. The downside and an often repeated criticism of twitter is clutter, the abundance of randomness and Jack and the team are clearly looking to tackle this issue with the changes.
My view is that Twitter will very likely offer options to users to improve the experience. Rumours are also circulating about removal of the 140 character limit, which for me would be a mistake. It’s the character count that makes Twitter unique and has created a communication form and style that hundreds of millions have embraced. If you want to use Twitter to write chapter and verse you can via Direct Message, that works for me as it is often a one to one exchange that requires added content.
So Twitter is not resembling a *Norwegian Blue or demised duck and it’s too dramatic to say it’s more of a Phoenix. Its flight path may have faltered recently but it’s growing some bright new feathers and I suspect will soon be flying high again. The key to success will be in retaining the engagement of users by staying relevant and straightforward.
*Norwegian Blue – for those who are not Monty Python fans, it is the alleged variety of Parrot purchased by John Cleese from the dodgy pet shop in The Dead Parrot Sketch.