Dear Twitter: Here are 12 Suggestions for Avoiding the Social Media Scrapyard
Last Thursday, June 30, was National Social Media Day; and after we'd passed around cake and Champagne to celebrate, we began thinking about our favorite platforms, like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Pinterest, etc., etc. Then . . . there was you, Twitter.
And you, Twitter, have a problem: You have a diehard user base at your core; unfortunately, though, as a social media giant, you have become rather successful at annoying almost everyone.
Certainly, you are unique, Twitter, considering your famous celebrity content-providers. But, even as your company has dealt with recent stagnated user growth, and a tumbling stock price, you have had to try new things in order to stay relevant.
Here are 12 suggestions on what else you could do in order to avoid the social media scrapyard (MySpace, anyone?).
1. Help users feel good about themselves.
The current one-size-fits-all model of expecting all users to be content-creators is nuts. Why is it relevant for all of your users to post content or attract huge numbers of followers? You, Twitter, could monetize eyeballs if you wanted, so it’s almost irrelevant how many -- or whether -- users post their own content.
2. Where’s the edit button?
You, Twitter, will not let users fix spelling errors, or edit content. In addition, your users quite often want to return to a previous discussion to add hashtags, allowing the discussion to then be archived together and accessible on a single screen. Oddly, you won’t let us do this.
3. Throw out the 140-character limit.
How about we show 140 characters in user feeds, with the option to expand the content via the click of a button or touch of a screen? Same look, but immensely better content and user experience.
4. Combat spam.
As with all social platforms, bots and fake accounts are a big issue for you, Twitter. By your own estimations, 5 percent of your users are bots. From previous analysis, you've found that big celebrity accounts are comprised of anywhere from 50 percent to 70 percent fake follower accounts. Hashtag hijacking is another big issue for you. These problems don't seem to be being tackled effectively at present. You could and should take the fight to this issue algorithmically, and allow users to easily report spam.
5. Allow easy music- and other content-sharing.
Learn from the mistakes of others, and offer artists and content-providers a sensible profit-sharing solution that benefits everyone.
Related: Twitter: What Went Wrong
6. Hand over category management for archives to users.
Twitter, you offer three archive categories -- Tweets, Tweets & Replies and Media. Do you think this is enough? It isn’t. This paltry list also adds to your congestion and loss of quality tweets, and worsens your white noise problem. Why not hand over control to users, to create their own meaningful categories?
7. Embrace freedom of speech.
You are militant on closing accounts, with very questionable if not somewhat confusing reasoning much of the time. Your company almost makes a sport out of it. If there is a defined process there, it’s certainly not being communicated to your user base. This approach seems at odds with what social media is all about.
8. Do much more with data.
The sheer volume of data you, Twitter, have at your fingertips is mind-boggling. Your company could make use of this data at the very least to understand what gets users excited. Going further, you could then begin grouping content and people, allowing for elegant ad-targeting, not to mention help for people in resolving the somewhat strange current algorithm for who to follow recommendations.
9. Include an expiration-date option.
Why wouldn’t you? It would help de-clutter, and give greater attention and airtime to, your quality content. It would also support the notion of rapid-fire comments, which are relevant only in the moment.
10. Sort out video and live-streaming.
Your move into this space, Twitter, has been poor, to say the least. Your live video options are awful. At least, you are getting better at this, as witnessed by recent deals, but you need a proper strategy, and more action in this category, and urgently.
11. Offer smarter content display.
Despite your launch of “Things you may have missed” and pinned tweets for users, your platform is congested, noisy and simply too busy. It almost promotes an environment where stuff gets lost. This in itself is not only frustrating for existing users, but intimidating for new ones. You need to better index and display the most relevant content specific to customers' interests.
12. Put users first.
There’s a reason all of us do market research. There’s also something to be said for community engagement. If the user crowd is asking for something, especially repeatedly (an edit feature being a prime example), listen to them and respond.
The response doesn’t always have to be yes; it might be a no, or, "We might add it to our product development roadmap." But, respond, Twitter. Engage with your user base.
So, again, happy Social Media Day, Twitter. Please consider these 12 simple steps you could take to boost the quality and experience of your platform. Who knows, these moves might even help you turn the tide.