The Agony and Ecstasy of Twitter (in 2014)
Curatti Social Media Recap #3
We’re in the final weeks of 2014, rapidly approaching the New Year celebrations. 2014 has been yet another banner year for social media, digital marketing, and the era of curation as the companies surrounding the trend make waves. In a 10 article series, we have been counting down the events of the year and looking at how each of these events presents a key and critical takeaway for what matters in marketing, and more. In today’s edition, we talk about the agony and the ecstasy of Twitter in 2014.
By now, it’s a given fact that Twitter contains the pulse of the world. Even in its earliest days, Twitter served as the center of attention for events such as the Arab Spring and Michael Jackson’s death. In 2014, the microblogging platform was once again at the forefront of the news but also at a crossroads as well. For analysts, users, and social media folks alike, Twitter has become both the agony and the ecstasy.
We’ll explore both in today’s post, the 10th in this year’s series.
Agony and Ecstasy
Like most of the social networks on the market today, Twitter represents the best of both worlds for those looking at getting into social media. It’s open interface bypasses the need for users to “friend” each other like on Facebook, and privacy settings don’t extend further beyond keeping your feed private from the viewing of onlookers. On the business side, Twitter moves at ten miles a second (or at least it feels like it does), so being able to catch relevant news, people, and more is sometimes extremely difficult. Finally, for Twitter the company, 2014 has been an up and down year as well, with the questions from 2013 still looming over its ability to generate a steady revenue to be right there with counterparts LinkedIn and Facebook. Let’s explore some parts of the agony that mattered this year.
- The Revenue Problem: This question was prevalent in 2013 when Twitter went public, and in 2014 is still a question that few wonder about. From sagging growth rates to a loss per user, Twitter is still going through the same questions analysts asked of it just a short year ago. While a venerable platform, the point with products is marketing and results, and if there are no results, then having a business might not make sense in the first place.
- The Instagram Problem: The other agony that exists is the fact that Instagram, Facebook’s $1 billion dollar acquisition from a year ago recently surpassed Twitter in total users, sparking apathy from Twitter’s co-founders. Though Instagram and Twitter do two completely different things (despite Twitter’s adding of filters and support of GIFs this year), the overtaking from Instagram sparks the question of just how interesting Twitter is anymore. While marketers will still take Twitter seriously for the next few quarters, will end users?
- The Agony of Spam: Twitter has always been a center for spam. Anyone who uses the platform will tell you that there are a constant stream of profiles who follow other profiles promising the influx of followers in exchange for money. This has now been replaced by bots, as Robert M. Caruso over at BundlePost writes, as new users have found ways to circumvent traditional anti-spam policies. As spammers increase on Twitter and harass new users, this continues the conversation of what exactly the platform could be good for. We at Curatti believe that Twitter has a lot of value to add, still, but are watching what other analysts say very closely.
- The Copy Problem: The final point of agony for Twitter in 2014 is the copying of Facebook. While Twitter won’t admit it directly, it stands to note that in 2014, Twitter added features like its cover photo that mimics the look that Facebook several years ago when they themselves debuted the cover photo as well. If anything, this prompts social media marketers to ask the question if Twitter wants to be unique or copy competitors and their features.
- Social Conversation: Social events are always prominent on Twitter and 2014 was no exception. Events such as the Eric Brown killing and other events sparked immense online and offline protest over police brutality and continue to do so. While I won’t comment on the politics themselves, I will note that these events sparked conversation on Twitter as users took to explaining their thoughts in 140 characters or less. One such hashtag that was used was #CrimingWhileWhite, used by Caucasian users to try and show the dichotomy between how races are treated when they commit crimes.
- Continued Popularity: While there’s a lot of agony to write about for Twitter, there’s also quite a bit of popularity left. Real-time tweets on social media always take the lead, and Ellen DeGenres’ Oscars tweet nearly broke the Internet this year with the most retweets ever. At the very least, even if the network might be floundering there are celebrities that are worth following.
The Curatti Takeaway
As we head into 2015 it’s important to take a look at how far Twitter has gone, but also as analysts, where Twitter is going. The microblogging platform was a crucial part of our world this year, and will no doubt play a key role in events that happen next year and through into 2016 where we will see events like the next US presidential election. As both business observers and owners, stay abreast of what’s going on, as things can change quickly. In the meantime, enjoy the ride!
Images: Copyright: ‘http://www.123rf.com/profile_kudryashka‘>kudryashka / 123RF Stock Photo
Ecstasy by Karen Cusolito