Twitter is making headlines for all the wrong reasons. The social media service, once hailed as a breakthrough in communications, is floundering financially. The company’s stock is tanking, layoffs are becoming regular occurrences and the service isn’t growing as fast as Wall Street would like. Twitter is exploring a sale, yet no companies seem willing to acquire it.
This is a far cry from the tremendous press Twitter enjoyed in its earlier days. The company was heralded as literally revolutionary in 2011 when activists in Egypt used the service to spread news and coordinate protests. Thought leaders and celebrities ranging from Pope Francis to LeBron James all hopped on the platform. People from all walks of life could exchange ideas on a digital town square.
Those days of high praise seem to be over now. Today, Twitter deals with heavy criticism on a regular basis. Everything from its (lack of?) long-term vision and how the company handles unpleasant trolls are fair game.
With the company’s damaged image and slowed growth, the question is whether Twitter is still worth it for businesses and people trying to build their brand. Time is precious, after all, and Twitter might not seem to be worth the investment it used to be.
So is it time to give up on Twitter? The answer is a strong, empathetic, “wait and see.” If you’re using Twitter regularly to grow your business or develop a following, here’s what you need to know.
The biggest reason to be concerned if you’re using Twitter is that the platform is staying flat — at least from an engagement standpoint. Sure, Twitter is still one of the largest social media platforms out there. It boasts 300,000,000 monthly active users. That number, however, is staying fairly flat while Facebook continues growing.
Concerns about Twitter’s growth aren’t anything new. A so-called eulogy published in The Atlantic in 2014 noted this decline.
The publishing platform that carried us into the mobile Internet age is receding. Its influence on publishing will remain, but the platform’s place in Internet culture is changing in a way that feels irreversible and echoes the tradition of AIM and pre-2005 blogging.
If you’re wondering if Twitter is worth the time and effort in boosting your business, you’re right to be a little concerned. Those fears about Twitter dying, however, might be a little overstated.
Still No Alternative
Compared to Facebook, Twitter pales in several key factors. The audience is far smaller, the engagement is tiny and people don’t use the platform for too long at a time.
Despite all those concerns, Twitter still stands on its own as a great way to build a brand or push a message.
Look no further than the recent U.S. election cycle. There wasn’t a day that went by where the news channels didn’t mention something that somebody said on Twitter. All the big names and major influencers are still using the platform regularly. In comparison, Facebook feels less immediate and not as candid, so there’s something to be said about the usefulness of Twitter.
Even though users have eschewed Twitter in favor of the more intimate experiences offered by Snapchat and Instagram, Twitter is still an important place for driving discussions. That’s despite the widely criticized abuse that takes place on the platform.
Twitter isn’t the powerhouse it once seemed to be. Despite that, it remains to people growing their businesses. When Twitter is used correctly there are still opportunities to reach an audience.
On top of that, Twitter is effective as a customer service platform. Businesses have leveraged the quickness of Twitter to interact with customers and resolve complaints. Just recently, Twitter rolled out an automated reply system for businesses to use. It’s nothing earth-shattering, but it is a useful tool for businesses with limited resources.
Will It Remain?
One legitimate fear is that Twitter could abandon its users and disappear. The Internet is an ephemeral place when it comes to social media platforms. That was proven when Twitter’s closed down its short-form video service called Vine. After four years and a fair amount of success, Twitter pulled the plug on the service to help improve its financial situation.
Long-time users who have cultivated an audience and built up their followers shudder at the thought of a shutdown. Fortunately, the odds Twitter shutting down are far less likely.
The company still has lots of value (even if it isn’t bringing in money to its company). It’s influential and still extremely popular, so the odds of Twitter disappearing in the near future are slim to none. For now, all we can do is wait. Can Twitter retain its users and even grow quicker? Or will more worrying signs start to appear?
Time will tell.