Twitter is deemed to be in major trouble with four of its top-level execs departing the company. And with the company’s share registering an all-time low Twitter is struggling to both find its footing with users and preference with the investors.
While Twitter has always been dubbed as one of the most popular and crucial social media forums, being clubbed with the likes of Facebook and having struck deals with the Internet giant Google, why is it suddenly tumbling down like a house of cards?
Who is to be blamed?
The mercurial management, the unclear status quo or the rise and focused growth of other social media networks?
At a time like this, you’d expect the C-suit guys scrambling to undo the damage, to come back fiercer and stronger but instead comes confirmed news of them quitting in bulk.
Something is definitely not right with Twitter.
What’s going wrong with Twitter?
In one word: everything.
Top-tier Executives Take a ‘Well-Deserved Time Off’ And At The Same Time
An executive upheaval as this warrants some concern. It’s one thing for a key executive of a company facing existential tumult to quit. It’s a harbinger of bad news if 4 of them decide to take a ‘time off’.
Kevin Weil, the head of product, Alex Roetter, who heads the engineering aspect of the company. Katie Stanton, Twitter’s media head and Brian ‘Skip’ Schipper, VP of human resources at Twitter have quit so far.
When mentions of Dorsey’s ‘house cleaning’ efforts started circulating, Dorsey took it to Twitter to both confirm the news and deny the ‘house cleaning’ tag. Instead he said they (the four executives) have decided to take a well-deserved time off.
And also emphasized on a need for ‘bold rethinking’ and ‘investing in talent’.
What’s particularly unsettling is that Stanton, Roetter and Weil had chalked a plan to make the site user-friendly to lure in mainstream users who once labeled the site too technical. And this plan did garner favorable results that were seen with its share value going up, albeit for a while.
Cascading Stock Value
Back in 2013, when Twitter went public, their shares were priced at $26 per share. And when Jack Dorsey took over as interim, then permanent CEO from Dick Costolo, the value went up to $36.
Which although a definite improvement, was way below their all-time $69 mark. But instead of inching up, the share value further fell to $17 in early February.
Maybe Twitter should have waited to go public.
Constant Rumors Of Changing Features
Whether it’s the talk about Twitter raising its standard 140 characters limit to 10000 characters or playing around with features like replacing ‘Favorite’ with more interactive options, Twitter is not finding its footing.
Although changes are imperative for every social media forum if it doesn’t want to perish to the dead dark place of the Internet, rumors of changes, experimentation and implementation might not resonate well with users already overwhelmed by Twitter’s functioning.
The New Timeline
The #RIPTwitter hashtag started after news came of Twitter’s timeline to be governed by algorithm that would sort tweets according to who you most interact with.
Listing a series of ‘best tweets’ from people you follow even days after it has been posted will kill the real-time aspect of Twitter.
Although the feature is optional, Twitter received severe backlash for this move.
What’s Twitter’s Major Problems?
If Twitter is going through a rough patch, it’s primarily because of internal factors.
Twitter doesn’t know what it is?
What is Twitter really? Would you deem it to be an assorted newsfeed or a messaging forum or a broadcasting channel?
The problem is Twitter has no idea of the purpose of its existence, which subsequently leaves the users in doubt too.
We are living in specific niche-driven world today, at least digitally. If Twitter aims to be everything, it would soon perish. People are gearing more towards narrowed-down networking.
For instance Fishbrain is an app that helps everyone interested in all-things fishing connect on one platform. Even the cynics who disregard a new wave of niched-networking cannot sideline the changes a transition from desktop to mobile usage has garnered.
There have been hobby forums on the Internet since decades but why now? Why would niche social network become the next big thing now?
While fishing or any other hobby is more of a mobile, outdoor activity – one where you generally wouldn’t have access to a fixed connection – you can quickly upload anything relevant.
Secondly, it’s very customized and direct. Not into fishing? Don’t join. Unlike Facebook where your fishing pictures would hardly evoke a like or two and maybe a heart because Facebook promotes generic all-encompassing content, a niche specific social media app is more direct.
But where does Twitter stand in this case? That it’s yet to discern.
Twitter doesn’t know what it wants?
Sure everyone’s on Twitter, the brands, the big boys, celebrities and the mainstream users.
But what does it really want from itself?
It seemed back when Costolo was CEO, a strength of 400 million users was estimated to be reached by 2013. Three years later, not only has that figure not been attained, the statistics are sliding further down.
If you thought social media stagnation was a cause for alarm, a decline is indeed a cause for panic.
But the problem is Twitter has shunned user growth as a key metric now, and finding solace in the rising revenue numbers. This hopping to support the winning team attitude shows Twitter isn’t thinking objectives and strategies like a billion dollar company should.
Twitter doesn’t know whose side to take
As a private entity, Twitter has the right to either champion or curtail free speech. And so far, it’s done none.
Twitter continues to be the breeding ground for bullies, and foul-mouthed (more like foul-handed) philistines. Some tweets are downright distasteful, some seditious, and some simply reputation-tainting but Twitter had in the past affirmed its support for freedom of expression.
Yet rescinding the ‘verified’ status of Milo Yiannopoulos, banning writer Robert Stacy McCain, and censoring hashtags state that Twitter is re-writing the rules.
Coming to a radial point would be far difficult for Twitter and maybe not even theoretically possible since banning/censoring content to discourage hate speech is in itself a limitation of the freedom of speech. The blurring line between a strong disagreeing opinion and seditious thought, one between a personal standpoint and a radicalized tag to the same, will make drawing up rules and diktats practically impossible.
Will Twitter go down the politically-correct route or will it be the collective and isolated voice of the people?
Twitter has tremendous potential for almost every user, how does it decide to grapple with its flaws and set them right is something we have to watch out for.