Is Twitter Dying?

Is Twitter dying?

It doesn’t look good. It’s most recent quarterly report showed a 0 percent growth in users.

As in nada, no one.

That’s down from a robust 9 percent growth in the previous quarter. So that ain’t good.

But people have been predicting Twitter’s death for years now. Is it really on its way out?

Twitter is locked in at 328 million users, not a small number, but nothing close to the 2 billion people around the world currently using Facebook, or the 700 million using the rapidly growing Instagram, and behind the 340 million people using the “Chinese Twitter” Weibo.

It does, however, compare favourably to the 166 million users of once-rising star Snap (nee Snapchat).

With Russian bots, trolls and, oh, a certain US president all hurling abuse and invective, Twitter is a cacophonous place that could be seen as failing. But it’s not failing, it is changing.

Think about the  people that actually post on Twitter, rather than mostly just lurk. They are journalists, CEOs, politicians and people with a cause to advance. Or they are the execrable “social media ninjas” trying to sell you something. Look at your most recent 20 followers on the site and see how many “real” people followed you.

So the Twitter users aren’t the “normal” people who use Facebook. There is increasingly a “Twitter class” of people who use the site to post news, ideas or arguments, and larger group of people who just read their posts and retweet them.

Breaking News

So we’ve moved from Twitter being a social network where we shared our most inane daily happenings to one where we curate our news from an impressive array of sources.

Is that a bad thing? No, not really. Facebook’s ubiquity has displaced the original intent of Twitter.

But Twitter’s immediacy makes it ideal for news. When something happens, we tend it hear about it first on Twitter. News breaks and spreads there.

Of course, it’s not always accurate and the “filter bubble” is a reality that influences the way we think or work, creating what the United States military calls “incestuous amplification” where we hear only from people that agree with us.

Meaning for Marketers

So what does Twitter becoming a customized media aggregator mean for brands trying to reach consumers?

It means you need to compete with the “news” created by the ruling Twitter class, or step away to a channel that better suits your brand.  It means creating timely and relevant content, the era of clickbait is coming to an end. It means creating relevant news for your space and your audience.

That isn’t for everyone and that’s OK. The reality is that most brands should focus on the social networks that make the most sense for the audiences.

Twitter is becoming a niche player that is home to a wide range of views from which its users curate. It may get smaller rather than bigger, something Wall Street won’t like.

But Twitter isn’t dying. It will continue to play an important role in our society and economy.

Allan Gates

Allan Gates is a partner with Bonfire.