THE BLOG

Is It All Over For Twitter?

10/02/2017 14:06

The latest quarterly earnings figures from Twitter have seriously disappointed the financial analysts. The stock price plunged 9% today as the team at Twitter confessed that their expectations for Q1 2017 will be revenue of $75-95m. Wall Street had been expecting a figure closer to $200m. US revenue is down, but international revenue is up. User numbers are increasing, but with 319 million monthly users it has only grown 4% on the previous year. That sounds more like treading water than growing.

It's not good news. Twitter has been boosted in the past year by the US presidential election and in particular the fact that it has become the personal megaphone of President Donald Trump. But will the Trump connection also cause the network to fail?

Today I checked to see what a friend of mine was posting on Twitter and I couldn't find his profile - it had just vanished. I asked him why using WhatsApp. He said that he was bored of fighting the constant ads (sponsored tweets) and political trolls and it just didn't add any value for him any longer.

This guy is based in Canada and is the CEO of a research company. If he says there is no longer any useful news on Twitter then Jack Dorsey should be worried. The fake news and Trump trolling mixed with too many irrelevant adverts just lost them a previously heavy user of the service.

I have my own doubts. I know that none of the corporate clients I work with today are interested in Twitter now. It used to be an essential tool for company executives who wanted to make connections with journalists, industry analysts, and potential clients. Now all that soft marketing by engaging with industry influencers is done on LinkedIn.

Twitter recently scrapped their Vine video service, even though they had arguably created a new art form - the extremely short video that actually manages to pack a message into a few seconds. Their Moments news service appears to be used only by Twitter staffers. I once asked my Twitter followers if they found Moments useful and the best response was from a friend who said that he only ever goes there by mistake and gets out as fast as possible.

Periscope was a great innovation, but now live video streaming is available inside many other social networks like Facebook and Instagram. Without a purpose I expect it will soon head the same way as Vine.

Personally I have not felt as vitriolic about the advertising on Twitter as my friend in Canada. I haven't found it intrusive, or maybe the Twitter algorithm just works better in my case and serves more relevant ads, however I have been subjected to some awful trolling because I criticised President Donald Trump.

I'm not a celebrity, but still I have to regularly spend time blocking and reporting trolls. Journalists - especially women - are now regularly abused on Twitter by those who don't agree with their published opinions. The very anonymity that once allowed and encouraged debate on Twitter may now destroy the network as everyone with an intelligent voice leaves the platform - tired of the constant anonymous misogyny and racism. The 'egg' profiles are taking over.

For me the jury is still out. I've invested a lot of time in the network since I joined in April 2008. In those nine years I have tweeted almost 142,000 times - that's quite a lot of interaction and comment. I even wrote a book featuring all of Shakespeare's sonnets translated into tweets while retaining the original meaning of each poem.

It won't be easy for me to walk away from that much engagement, but if I have to continue blocking racists that I never see on other networks - such as Instagram - then I'll be following my friend to the exit.

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