Twitter has long dominated the social media scene in terms of spreading the word to a lot of people at once. The reach of Twitter is incredible. For every one person that reads a comment of yours on Facebook, there’s a chance that a dozen will read it on Twitter. Facebook posts have to be re-shared and reshared to reach a million people, but as Charlie Sheen and Ashton Kutcher have proven, a Twitter post can reach a million people in the blink of an eye.
However, this wide range of influence may not be enough to keep Twitter relevant to marketers who rely on social media to get the word out. Here are some of the major problems Twitter needs to address if they hope to keep up with Google+, Pinterest, and Facebook.
1. A Lack of Community
You don’t have friends on Twitter, you have followers. Google+ allows you to post similarly to Twitter, posting short ideas and jokes and links, but they also encourage a sense of community with comments threads and Circles. Twitter has nothing like this. There are people following you and there are people you follow, and that’s about it. Well, there are Twitter lists of course, but they are under-used.
There are a lot of ways to approach this problem without sacrificing the simplified, bare-bones nature of the site that users find so appealing. Something like small social circles or short comment threads could easily be implemented without seeming like clutter.
The impersonal feel of Twitter makes it great for short updates and sharing, but while Facebook feels more and more like Livejournal every day, Twitter has made almost no evolution whatsoever in any direction.
2. Zero Monetization
Other than the money that Twitter collects, nobody is making anything on Twitter. A marketer who’s looking to launch an ad campaign that will pay for itself will look at the monetization available on other social networks and make the obvious choice. They look at Twitter, and all too often, they see nothing but an expense.
True, it’s possible to make a Twitter following really pay off, but only in the long term. An ad on Facebook or an affiliate link on Blogspot will pay off immediately.
3. The Lack of Multimedia
Multimedia isn’t the point of Twitter. If they add comments, friends and unlimited multimedia, then they’re just copying Facebook. However, sometimes users don’t want to click a link to see a picture. Small embeddable photos, videos and other multimedia might be a great way to create a more natural and immediate Twitter experience.
4. Maintaining Their Identity
This is another major challenge if they do hope to make changes: How can they keep up without losing their identity? The issue here is that Twitter’s appeal is largely their simplicity. If users have to learn how to use multimedia settings, profiles and so on, they may lose interest.
Unfortunately, as it stands, Twitter isn’t really a way to make friends or really, truly connect with people. It’s a way to get attention, perhaps, but a Twitter user is just one voice in a sea of noise. It’s hard to stand out against that. Whatever the answer is, Twitter needs to find a balance between being the short-sentence side of social media without falling behind.
5. Public Image
Public image isn’t too big of a problem for Twitter, but there is a degree of bias against the site. Many people don’t feel that Twitter is worthy of their time, they worry that there’s absolutely nothing of substance to be found or shared on Twitter.
The truth is that, if used properly, Twitter can be an incredible tool. Unfortunately, it’s a much more difficult tool to use properly than Facebook or a blog. Where you can build a small, dedicated following with a blog, or a larger, somewhat-involved following on Facebook, you’re building an enormous and barely connected at all following on Twitter. Most users have a lot of followers who don’t even read any of their Tweets.
Twitter is a necessary component in the fast-moving age of iPhones and Androids, but the shallow user experience, the lack of any real monetization angle and the lack of any real sense of community may turn marketers off of the site in the long run. Social users, casual users will likely continue to use Twitter for as long as the site remains available, but businesses may turn more and more towards other means of getting the word out.