Why I don’t like Twitter (and why you don’t have to either)
1 May, 2017
Let’s play a game. I say two words, then you say the first two words that pop in to your head. I’ll then attempt to guess your two words. Sounds fun, right?
OK, here goes: “Social media.”
Now you go. Yes, you!
I knew it! You said, “Facebook and Twitter” didn’t you? And you snuck in an extra word thinking I wouldn’t notice. Well fine, I’ll let it slide this one time.
Truth is, Facebook and Twitter, or facebookandtwitter (said with one breath) are synonymous with social media; they’re the real MVP’s, the go-to guys. They’re complementary, different, yet equally influential powerhouses that have rightfully dominated the social media landscape since the dawn of time.
But here’s the thing: I just don’t like Twitter. I don’t like it for myself, but I like it even less for clients who are seeking to use social media to achieve their business objectives.
While you can’t judge the success of a social platform solely on its userbase, just last month (March 2017) Twitter recorded three million Monthly Active Users (MAUs) in Australia, and 313 million MAUs worldwide. Let’s compare that to Facebook, which had 17 million active users during March in Australia alone and, as a monthly average, records 1.86 billion MAUs globally.
To put that in context, Twitter recorded only 600,000 more users during March than Tinder, 900,000 fewer than Tumblr (Tumblr!!?) and actually, fewer users than not only Facebook but also YouTube, WordPress, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, and I’ll say it again for effect, Tumblr.
Despite its ubiquity, Twitter’s global appeal has continued to diminish. Sure, its name gets fired off whenever anyone talks about social media; but the channel is actually quite niche. It’s been batting above its global usage and engagement averages for a while now, with its growth remaining fairly stagnant (give or take a few hundred thousand here and there) over the past two years.
Twitter has its loyal, somewhat forceful following and for public personalities, maybe, I get it. And for people with a particular interest, you know, like dragon boating or something, who want to engage in existing conversations about dragon boating, it’s fine. But professional communicators who want to use social media to achieve specific and measurable communications goals? Forget it.
There is so much noise on Twitter, and a painful amount of it is spam. Did you know that the average tweet lifespan (that is, the length of time a tweet appears in your followers’ news feeds) is just 18 minutes? Twitter notwithstanding, how much time and energy would you reasonably invest in crafting a message that will likely only be seen for 18 minutes? My guess is, not much.
Getting meaningful engagement on Twitter is difficult and requires adequate resourcing. And adequate resourcing means having someone monitor the platform pretty much full time. For communications professionals, particularly those in the public sector, this reality simply isn’t viable.
Twitter’s value proposition lies in the way it facilitates dialogue. If it didn’t, it’d be just another broadcast platform. The Twitter objective is to get your audience to engage with you, to have a conversation with you. Yet in order to do so effectively serious time, budget and staff need to be invested in it.
Oh, and don’t even get me started on the trolling. Twitter has become a platform flooded with egos, and something about its fast-paced nature seems to embolden these kinds of people and encourage them to abuse others.
It’s been opined that Twitter is for social publishing what AOL was for email. The appeal of Twitter has shrunk, while its userbase remains stagnant and stale. So, for organisations looking to meaningfully engage with their audience, the case for Facebook is powerful.
We have a mantra at contentgroup: test and learn.
I’ve tested Twitter, and I’ve learned that it ultimately hasn’t helped me to achieve communications objectives for my public-sector clients.
What has been your experience with Twitter?
Lydia holds a Bachelor of History from the University of Sussex as well as a Masters in History (Genocide Studies) from the University of Amsterdam. Her communications experience includes working in the not-for-profit, public and now private sectors. Fortunately, given her chosen career path, writing is her absolute favourite activity (especially when flanked by a coffee and a dog).
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