My take on #RIPTwitter
There is some outrage in Twitter because it has started to implement some changes to its product.
- There was a change from stars to likes. I think I prefer stars because it conveys a different meaning: when I read something sad, I cannot click in Like, but I would click in star.
- Moments is something that appeared in the header of Twitter, but I haven’t clicked more than 3 times (the last one while preparing this post)
- Now it seems they’re going to put a “While you were away” on steroids. Sometimes I discover something I had actually missed. But usually I’ll go full chronological because I’ll discover something interesting more times in chronological than in “While you were away”.
- Still in the go is changing the maximum length of a tweet beyond the 140 characters.
I’m not very passionate about the changes. Many times I feel I spent too much time in Twitter, so the moment the changes start upsetting me, I’ll leave Twitter. And I will be glad of an excuse.
Twitter and users are both wrong
However, I feel that both Twitter and its users are not looking at the changes from the right perspective.
Outraged users think the changes are done with the active users in mind, and they feel they don’t want that.
They are wrong. The changes are to get more users.
Yes, there are many people that want to consume content in a packaged way. They don’t want to actively look for sources, prune, read, select. And they never will.T hose are the target of the changes. Twitter wants to get those people.
It’s a bold movement, but it has its merits.
However, Twitter is assuming
- that the only way to increase revenue is putting more eyeballs more time in front of ads.
- that no matter what Twitter does, active users will keep coming to the site.
- that they can convince people that want packaged-content to use the content Twitter prepares for them.
- that all of those who try twitter and leave it, drop out because they are packaged-content users.
I would bet that those assumptions are also wrong. The most dangerous one is the third assumption. Because, I do think there is no possible evolution of Twitter for people who don’t like Twitter.
What can Twitter do?
Let’s assume there is no Twitter for people that don’t like Twitter. But then, what can Twitter do?
The answer is be like Facebook. But not in the sense of building a Facebook clone. In the sense Facebook wants to be THE social networkS. For those who don’t like Facebook, let’s have Instagram. For those who don’t like Facebook’s messenger let’s have Whatsapp.
Moments is a good idea on its own. I know people that use Yahoo News Digest and they love it. I doubt anybody will come to Twitter to read Moments. But they would use a different app with the right experience for them. They’ve got the data to know what’s trending, and where.
But there are plenty of others possibilities. Compete in algorithms with people doing trending and alert analysis. Sell data, not ads. Twitter has an amazing volume of data and it’s seated on it.
Fix what everybody is telling you
Meanwhile, for the people who would like Twitter, fix what people is really asking: onboarding and bullying.
Joining Twitter, you have to spend weeks/months working out who to follow before it gets great. An automated feed is an obvious solution— Benedict Evans (@benedictevans) February 6, 2016
Onboarding is, in my opinion, the low hanging fruit in terms of fixing and bringing people into the funnel. I just tested it. It’s horrible. First the categories are difficult to figure out. There are things that looks very similar to me: Entertainment, Television, Music, Actor and actresses, comedians… Then even if you select only one category, you get other things. I just selected Charities and NGO and got offered Ant&Dec (UK comediants). And Jack Whitehall (another comedian) is in any option. IT anywhere? Economy? Politics? Alerts? I selected Literature and got offered and account run by Dan Brown’s team but I couldn’t find J.K.Rowling (which happens to be both a celebrity, write interesting books and tweets and has an honest non-BS dialogue in Twitter)
Twitter is pressed to get results. And it’s trying to get more people into the funnel by changing what their active users perceive is Twitter’s core proposition.
I would rather have a smaller bunch of loving users than a bigger portion of users who don’t give a damn.
But hey, I’m not Jack.
First published here