Twitter is an unwieldy, outdated social media platform that doesn’t really meet the needs of most users. There’s nothing special about it, and the features haven’t really changed dramatically in recent years. There are trolls running amok, and some questions regarding data integrity. Many people have left the platform to find better pastures.
Yet, it is still something we talk about and analyze.
Twitter is the most hated app in recent years. We’re enamored by everything Elon Musk does, drawn into the drama over whether he will actually complete the acquisition, and fret over the future of this one-time wunderkind of the tech startup space. I’m as guilty as anyone. In the beginning days of Twitter, I was tweeting almost every day. These were the golden days of Twitter when it was important to grow my followinger count.
As I was thinking about what Twitter could do to save it, and which features would help them grow and attract more users, an interesting thing happened. Although I became more aware of Twitter as a columnist and started writing more frequently about the topic, I have stopped using it as much. While I tweet still regularly, do you use Twitter to find news or information? It’s not so.
That’s the core problem worth considering as Elon Musk has now said he plans to complete the purchase and become the driving force behind a transition into making Twitter useful and valuable again. I know what he is planning to do, because he’s made it pretty clear. He wants to turn Twitter into “the everything app” similar to WeChat in that you can use it for messaging, buying products, and communicating with people in a public town hall (akin to a product he once called X.com).
That new direction doesn’t fully address the challenge ahead: how do you get people to start using it again? This has less do to with technical capabilities or replicating what YouChat can do. This is more about perception and public sentiment.
Let’s be honest. Twitter doesn’t deserve a good name. New features won’t help it survive.
I’m reminded of the days when Apple was not exactly a hot commodity like they are now. This was quite a few years ago when you could buy a “knock off” Mac computer that ran the same operating system. This was before the iPhone, when the Mac was simply another computer.
Apple transformed the way people saw the Mac in those days. It wasn’t just another computer, it was an Experience. The Mac was exceptional. It was special because it helped you to achieve more. The Mac was a great tool for achieving more. You probably have an iPhone. It can be a distraction in your hands at times, but it will help you to focus on the things you are doing.
That’s not exactly true with Twitter.
Instead, I look at the company and how they lack innovation. As a messaging client, it doesn’t disappear. You can only think of the fact that Twitter has problems because people abuse it, filter their content, and they are abusive. As we look deeper into a brand, the flaws and how it has been abused become more apparent. Twitter has many faults, so we spend more time thinking about it than actually using it.
Musk should do more than add features like WeChat, my hope. His X.com vision won’t save the company. Changing perceptions about security, addressing troll behavior, resolving the rampant political discord — that’s the secret to success. First fix the brand and then the product.
We’ll see if he can accomplish both.