Twitter's Business May Finally Be Trending in the Right Direction
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What happens when you’re making money but don’t have any new customers? That's the question Twitter is currently grappling with. The social media platform recently reported its first profitable quarter in the company’s 12-year history. It made $91 million in the fourth quarter of 2017, but its user base stayed flat.
The company ended the year with 330 million monthly users, which is up 4 percent from the same time in 2016, but that that figure fell short of Wall Street analysts who were predicting that it would increase by 1 million.
Although not quite the behemoth that Facebook is -- Mark Zuckerberg's social network reported in June of 2017 that it had 2 billion monthly users -- Twitter is still dealing with many of the same issues.
In October, representatives from Twitter were present on Capitol Hill with counterparts from Facebook and Google to answer for how Russian entities might have used social media to influence the 2016 presidential election.
In a January 2018 blog post, Twitter disclosed that it had identified more than 50,000 Russian-linked accounts that were disseminating content related to the election, and that it had notified 1.4 million users who had followed one of these accounts.
So what is Twitter doing to keep the momentum going in a positive direction?
Increased policing of hate speech
On Feb. 8, in concert with Safer Internet Day, the company published a blog post highlighting the work that it has been doing to police hate speech on the platform, which includes frequent updates about the rollout of revamped policies. At the end of December, Twitter began enforcing new rules that would ban accounts associated with hate groups.
We’ve updated our rules around abuse and hateful conduct as well as violence and physical harm. These changes will be enforced starting December 18. Read our updated rules here: https://t.co/NGVT3qGFvg— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) November 17, 2017
And as recently as this week, Twitter shared that it now had tools in place to report content and accounts that encourage self-harm.
While we continue to provide resources to people who are experiencing thoughts of self-harm, it is against our rules to encourage others to harm themselves. Starting today, you can report a profile, Tweet, or Direct Message for this type of content.— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) February 13, 2018
Increased character count
Twitter's decision to allow users to publish 280-character tweets seems to be working, though perhaps not in the way that the powers that be at Twitter initially thought.
During an early February investor call, Dorsey said that the average length of a tweet has not changed. “We’re seeing less abandonment of tweets. But we’re also seeing a lot more engagement. We’re also seeing more retweets, and we’re seeing a lot more mentions. And we’re also seeing people get more followers and return more often.”
He went on to say that he thought the change would make the platform more welcoming for new users. “We do believe that it’s minimizing some of the complexities and some of the confusion around Twitter in general,” he said.
It seems straightforward enough. Make things easier and actually address people’s concerns. Whether it leads to an upward trend in both revenue and users remains to be seen.