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How Twitter is Killing Itself

[a historial Twitter post, written in 2014]

Yeah, so Twitter has a new CEO and a new plan. And guess what. It’s not working. Twitter is one of the two big social networks, and they have yet to figure out how to turn a profit. You wouldn’t know that from their press releases, but you can see it in their balance sheets. And all this “Twitter is Dying” talk is a bit blown out of proportion.

Example: If your huge mansion has mold problems and a leaky roof it’s not about fall down, it just needs work. It doesn’t mean your are about to be foreclosed on. Twitter is not about to go through foreclosure. But Twitter may be going through a revaluation exercise as people are looking for profits from these once high-flying social media stocks. See, Facebook has solved it, though I would argue Facebook is killing its very network with the profitability ideas they’ve put into place.

Twitter has a different problem.

  1. Twitter Ads suck.
  2. sucks.
  3. They’ve essentially killed the Direct Message.
  4. They’ve demoted the lists (which used to equate authority) feature.
  5. They are losing a lot of money each quarter.

Twitter has a few things going for it.

  1. There is a huge install base of Twitter users.
  2. Marketing and Analysis companies love Twitter data and are willing to pay a little for the feed.
  3. TV and Twitter are the new social platform.
  4. Research on Twitter has essentially put Nielsen ratings out of business
  5. The Super Bowl is about Twitter, not football.

Twitter has two big tasks.

  1. Make money.
  2. Grow and keep an engaged user base

With other tools like SnapChat, What’s App, and Facebook, Twitter has some competition for attention. But there is no other tool that provides transparent and immediate feedback like Twitter. But what’s it worth?

Again, with the mansion metaphor, if your mansion is in such disrepair that you can’t afford to fix it up, you’ve got a problem. Or if the sale price is more like a fire sale because you’re losing so much money… Well, again Twitter has some big problems. And I’m not sure Mr. Dorsey has had the impact and turnaround they were hoping for with his return.

What does Twitter want to be when it grows up?

  • A publicly traded darling that’s making money hand over fist.
  • A social media measurement force.

The bigger question is: When Twitter gets done with all the tinkering (their new version that allows for unlimited txt length) will they end up gutting the mansion and starting over, or will they retain some of the initial magic and value of Twitter so that new generations of users fall in love with it? Can they do it before the money runs out and they have to fire sale the mansion?

John McElhenney — let’s connect online
@jmacofearth & Facebook & LinkedIn & The Whole Parent

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