The thing people forget about Twitter is that is already -- by any measure -- a massive success. Almost beyond anyones imagination. Celebrities tweet. Grandmas tweet. N.Y.C. tweets out school closings. It's too successful, it's too much signal -- without a filter.
So, before we go and talk about Twitter's impending doom, let's take a look at just how important, engaging and socially relevant it is today.
Let's start with celebrities. They're huge on twitter. You can follow Katy Perry, and seventy million people do. Dang. Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift aren't far behind. And number four on the list, behind Taylor? Barack Obama. Not bad for the leader of the free world.
Moving on to Brands. These direct communications between brands and their customers is changing the way Brands tell their stories to consumers. Starbucks has 8 million followers. Playstation and Samsung Mobile come in 2nd and 3rd.
The challenge for Twitter is that the charm and potential game-changing impact of the service was (and is) that it allows anyone to publish into the network. But, it's done a terrible job on the discovery front... delivering a big, noisy stream of tweets that are hard to sort out and filter. And it isn't something that is simply going to float away. Once you get past the Celebrities and the Brands, Twitter is huge in some categories you might not even think about. As the research firm Socialbakers explains --
Customer Care: Twitter is a huge platform for customer care -- in fact, it's the largest platform on social media for customer care in terms of volume. In Q1 2015, customers asked brands 6.5 million questions on Twitter compared to 1.4 million questions on Facebook. (This is from our Socially Devoted Q1 2015 study.)
- Twitter video: Social Bakers looked at the top 500 brands on Twitter (based on followers), and already by March 2015, 36% of the videos they posted to the platform were native Twitter videos (as compared to YouTube, Vine, Vimeo, etc videos). Even more impressive, 71% of the interactions (favorites, retweets, replies) on videos posted to the platform occurred on native Twitter videos. (In other words, Twitter video receives more engagement.) This is especially impressive given that Twitter just launched its video service in January.
- Periscope & Meerkat: Within the month since Periscope launched (March 26 - April 25, 2015), content creators posted over 4,000 Periscope and Meerkat live streams on Twitter. This doesn't include the live streams posted by normal users -- content creators means brands/celebs/media/entertainment companies.
- Events: Twitter is also huge for events and real-time affairs. During the World Cup for example, you can see here how many mentions we tracked daily of the teams and players.
Ok, here comes the solution. The word is -- Curation. And Twitter needs curation desperately.
Well-regarded blogger and thinker Bob Lefsetz wrote in his daily newsletter: "Maybe Twitter's unfixable. Maybe it's a fad like MySpace. Something gee-whiz, brand new, that is succeeded by a platform with more functionality. Twitter told us we want instant news. But it never turned into a comprehensible service. It's the internet at its worst."
And there's some truth to what he says, even if it's a bit harsh. Twitter is hard to navigate, but it's hardly unfixable. And, more importantly, it's essential.
Chris Sacca's blog post on this topic calls for curation, human editors, and channels -- all the things that I've been asking for in this, and previous posts. So, if you haven't already -- here's his post -- worth a read for sure.
So now is not the time to sell, or reduce expectations. It's time to feed the beast, and create a clean and navigable front end. Mobile first, channelized, and curated. If Twitter can do that, they'll win the biggest prize that the internet has to offer, relevance and revenue.
Steven Rosenbaum is serial entrepreneur, author, and filmmaker. His latest book, Curate This! is in print and ebook on Amazon.com. He is the CEO of Waywire.com (enterprise.waywire.com)