How to Solve Twitter's Biggest Problems
There has been a lot of discussion about Twitter lately, most of it negative -- it can't make money on advertising, growth is down and online bullies remain a problem.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump tweets daily; more every day since the election. This alone, you'd think, would draw more attention to Twitter and make it more popular. Twitter actually does over $2.5 billion in revenue, but tech companies are supposed to grow like crazy, not freeze up at a mere $2.5 billion dollars, which is ludicrous.
With that revenue, all Twitter needs to do is have a bunch of sales folks sell the ads and a slew of IT guys keep the thing running. That should not cost billions, although it looks like it does.
So what's the solution to this "problem"?
When I listen to all the pundits, I see two solutions. The first is never brought up for any other billion-dollar company: stabilization. In other words, do nothing.
In tech, there is a never-ending mad dash for growth. It stems from the late 1990s, when one company would replace another after the simplest of stumbles. The financiers, mostly venture capitalists, demanded high performance growth so they could dump the company and do it all over again with some other crazy idea. This is an unnatural way to do business. Most businesses stabilize and become fixtures. Not so with tech, where everything seems like a fad.
Online customers can easily drop one thing and flock to another. Thus, Twitter's $2.5 billion in revenue could drop to a billion -- or nothing -- almost overnight. It cannot just stabilize and coast for as long as possible, or die a natural death, or morph the way AOL morphed. It is a spawn of the go-go tech grow-like-crazy-or-die syndrome.
The irony is that such companies often get acquired by other growth-oriented places like Google or Facebook. What happens then? They slowly die a natural death ... usually quicker.
Twitter, unlike many of these operations, has a different dimension, though. It's a kind of public service. It breaks news and can trigger revolutions or protests. It's casual, too. Twitter is an enjoyable product if you are not attacked by its mad dogs.
That's not to say there aren't problems with Twitter. There is some sort of corruption with the "Who to follow" recommendations; it seldom makes sense especially for those signing up for a new account. Maybe that's part of its advertising, although I do not think so. There is a lot of spam. I find fake accounts daily and do not see how they can possibly remain unless Twitter wants phony numbers. That said, its core users seem content.
Which brings us to the second solution, which is simple. Do what LinkedIn did and add a premium tier. I'd pay $5 or $10 a year for an upper tier account. There are over 300 million active users. Sell them something! How hard can it be?