Twitter is in trouble. As one of the initial social media/internet darlings, Twitter has floundered where Facebook, Instagram (also Facebook) and Snapchat have thrived. But Twitter is a different beast all together. This week, according to sources (Twitter is now a news app – Mashable) Twitter moved it's mobile app in the Apple Online Store from Social Media Networking to News. Seems they were tired of always coming in about #5 on the social media list. Their hope is that a #1 or #2 position on News will give them more visibility and thus more downloads and more NEW tweeters.
But Twitter's problems run a lot deeper than classification, and Twitter has itself to blame for the problems and one hell of a hard time if they decided to fix them.
BIG PROBLEM ONE
Twitter has millions of fake and spammy accounts. They sometimes even promote the spammy accounts in their "who to follow" recommendations.
I'm going to make a guess, that of Twitters 310 million users last month, 1/3 of them are fake, scam, or auto-tweeting robots. Now Twitter could do something quit easily to shut these types of accounts down, they are easy to spot. But for the investors, Twitter needs to show growth numbers, and spammers are new accounts too. So if Twitter were to really go after the fake and fraudulent accounts they would kill their growth (which is useless growth for its users, btw) and in fact kill their investment numbers.
BIG PROBLEM TWO
Robo-twitter accounts are created every second. And the second problem Twitter has is they are too easy to set up. There's no phone # verification.
All you need is a unique email address (established free on g-mail or yahoo) something like [email protected] and you can then set up your new Twitter account. @3234FFRdx who shows up most prominently under their user name SocialMarketingMaster.
In fact, let's do a test. I just made those account numbers up, but I'm going to set up a new Twitter account and time how long it takes. The time is 1:20 cst.
Step Two: SKIP IT.
Step Three: Username. My random letters and numbers was already taken so I added a A2 on the end.
Step Four: Welcome
Step Six: Upload a photo. I did two cats. And viola we're now on Twitter.
Finished 1:24 cst.
Rinse and repeat over and over again. I'll keep a tab on how long Twitter allows me to use this account without confirming my random email address. Now I will do nothing more on this account. I did add a header image as well. Let's watch how this account grows. My guess is they will never MAKE me confirm my email address, so even that is a bluff. The scammers in India and Pakistan coffee shops are a lot faster than me and can build a new Twitter account in 2 minutes, with a profile images, header image, and recycled bio full of hashtags and marketing mumbo jumbo, what ever they think will cause people to follow the account.
FAIL: BIG STRIKE BACK FOR TWITTER
Uh oh. 1:35 cst.
The say they are going to verify via phone number of delete my account. They also say instructions have been emailed to my fake gmail account. I wonder if the bounce triggered the terms violation.
I'm not about to associate this account with a real phone number. And I'm not bored enough to carry this experiment further by establishing the gmail account first so there is no bounce. But I'm sure there are ways around the PHONE connection because there was an option to "skip it."
So my SocialMarketngMaster account will die shortly, according to their terms of service. But you can be assured that there are ways around the phone verification, and gmail addresses are as easy to set up as Twitter accounts.
WAIT, WHY NOT.
So let's see how far this can go: You can follow me at SocialMarketngMaster
On Twitter 1/3 of the traffic and activity is generated by spammers, robots, and scam artists trying to sell you massive groups of Twitter followers just like the account we almost set up.
NEXT UP for TWITTER
Getting people off the fire hose of Twitter.com and onto Tweetdeck.twitter.com. But for newbies it's over whelming. And the use of Twitter without a tool is maddening. So their retention rate for new active accounts is very low as well.
Whats the answer?
Requiring a phone account, like Facebook, would certainly slow down the scam process. And each account would be tied to an actual phone number that could be traced. Legitimate users wouldn't be afraid of that, they do it now on Facebook. But how would a business, like myself, generate 5 – 10 accounts for various customers without getting 5 – 10 phone numbers to attach them to? It's a problematic solutions.
But they could start by really cracking on the spammy accounts. Send warnings to the over users. And delete accounts that have been inactive for a set about of time. And they could penalize the uber spammers like Guy Kawasaki, who blankets billions of tweets a day with a team of spammy tweeters. Oh well.
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