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Will the Real Micro-Blogging Platform Please Stand Up

1. A brief history

Twitter is known to be fast, real-time and to the point short(140 characters). Tweeps acknowledge its DNA and have stayed loyal to this platform since its introduction in 2006. Having said that, Twitter’s user growth rate has been stuck in the rut for quite some time now. The graph below clearly shows the decline in monthly active user growth rate. It’s not a pretty picture for any CEO and especially for Jack Dorsey the founder himself returning as CEO.

Twitter monthly active user growth rate decline

http://www.statista.com/statistics/282087/number-of-monthly-active-twitter-users/

To re-ignite growth, Twitter came up with a string of features since April 2015. Some of them went well with the tweeps which are,

2. Highlights – April 23, 2015

Twitter highlights is a simple summary of the best Tweets for you. This feature debuted in April last year. It shows you the tweets from accounts you follow, trending topics and interesting conversation that happened while you were not logged into Twitter. ‘Highlights’ is shown in a separate tab in the Twitter app and does not mess with the Twitter timeline like the ‘While you were away’ feature. Surprisingly, this feature is only available for Android users, and there is no ETA for iOS users.

 

Twitter Highlights(1)
Twitter Highlights(1)
Twitter Highlights(3)
Twitter Highlights(3)
Twitter Highlights(2)
Twitter Highlights(2)

 

3. Moments – October 6, 2015

Jack Dorsey was ushered in as the CEO of Twitter on 5th October last year and the Moments feature was introduced the very next day. Moments showcases the best of what’s happening on Twitter in an instant. The Moments feature can be accessed through a separate ‘lightning bolt’ tab. Here, Twitter users can access curated tweets related to a particular event. Since this didn’t mess with Twitter’s reverse chronological timeline, it was accepted by the users. In fact, Twitter was banking on its success to get a big chunk of new users.

Twitter moments
Twitter moments

(Courtesy: Twitter Blogs)

This feature was only released in the US, UK and Brazil. Beats me why they weren’t looking at growing markets in the Asia-Pacific region. Japan and India have the highest Twitter users in this region with 26 and 22.2 million users. Indian Twitter users growth rate is expected to be more than 30%. Did Twitter miss a trick by not launching its flagship feature there?

4. Twitter Polls – October 21, 2015

Tweeps used the existing features like retweets and favourites to air their views. Twitter made it better by introducing Polls in October last year. Brands can use this in different ways to increase engagement with their TGs. Twitter polls were all about using Twitter right. This feature was built to leverage the real-time impatient mindset of tweeps and took care of their privacy as well. Tweeps welcomed this feature and did not cry foul over it.

Twitter Poll McDonald
Twitter Poll McDonald

Apart from these major updates, Twitter banked on other updates like, changing favorites to likes, launching Windows 10 Twitter app and DMs without character limit which too had nothing to show for in terms of user growth rate.

5. When it all started going downhill

Twitter then went on to suggest that they were considering increasing the character length to 10000. Understandably, tweeps lost their marbles. Twitter for most is a getaway from the boring posts and duckface selfie posts of FB. Changing the layout of their favourite local coffee shop to look more like a Starbucks joint just to lure in more footfalls obviously upset them.

Twitter 10k tweets
Twitter 10k tweets

6. The Final nail?

On Feb 6th however, #RIPTwitter started trending. According to a Buzzfeed report, Twitter would be going ahead with altering their reverse chronological timeline to an algorithmic timeline. This is more in-line with what Facebook does to tailor content based on the user’s interests and profile history. Twitterati again went up in arms as this reordered timeline violated their free will. Jack Dorsey then released a series of tweets to quell the storm but nowhere did he deny the feature update.

 Jack Dorsey on #RIPTwitter
Jack Dorsey on #RIPTwitter

In conclusion, we at Smhack would like to say that we love Twitter for what it is and what it stands for. We love spending time on Twitter as it is fast and impatient and resonates well with us. We understand the need to increase Twitter’s user growth rate but not at the cost of its identity. We also don’t understand why ‘Twitter Moments’ is not available to the rest of the world and why ‘Highlights’ is not available in iOS. The service is not evened out across platforms. Quite a lot for young Jack to think about.

This reminds me of a scene in Speed (1994)

Twitter and Jack
Twitter and Jack

(Image copyrighted by 20th Century Fox)

We’ll try to get better with the memes. Meanwhile, let us know what you think about Twitter’s recent upgrades. Are you ok with them or do you think they should consider keeping their identity. Do let us know in the comments section below or tweet to https://twitter.com/smhackapp