This week’s blog post is thanks to my close friend and persistent colleague Sally Falkow of Meritus Media. Sally sent me a series of questions about what I think the the future of Twitter will be in light of a fourth-quarter revenue miss based on analysts’ expectation.
SF: What’s your take on the future of Twitter?
CA: Twitter isn’t going anywhere. It’s become an International dial tone, like the internet itself, like your phone service or your AM, FM, and Ham Radio spectrum. Twitter will become protected some way or another becoming, effectively, a protected essential public utility.
Twitter is an essential commodity that benefits the State Department, Open Source Intelligence (NSA, NRO, CIA, FBI), and Corporate Intelligence (NASDAQ, DOW, etc). There’s too much good, free, intel — remember the Real Time Web? It’s still a thing!
After all this time — and now, with amazingly powerful tools like Palantir’s Gotham and Metropolis — it’s still one of the most amazing sources of International, filterless, geolocated pulsepoint providing real-time access to “stupid people” organizing protests (instead of using secure channels), and so forth.
So, they really can’t lose it. It’s seriously way too valuable. Maybe In-Q-Tel (IQT) can buy it. It’s also a super-valuable communications channel for our current President, and he would consider any attack on Twitter as a personal attack on his 24.6M followers.
And if Trump is really a billionaire, maybe his dynasty can buy it. Or maybe it can be nationalized by an Executive Order.
SF: This announcement of a big Twitter loss in the last Quarter has raised doubts
CA: Maybe this is a play for a leveraged buyout. Maybe someone has discovered that Twitter is the #1 channel for @realDonaldTrump and @potus to communicate directly to and with the world. More valuable than CNN, MSNBC, and possibly FOX News — at least when it comes to total eyeballs.
Don’t forget that volatility doesn’t necessarily mean vulnerability, it could just mean corporate raiding.
SF: Will it last or go the way of MySpace?
CA: Facebook, Insta, and Snapchat can’t do the same thing that Twitter can do, all these years later. And I don’t see another one coming up. Know why? Because Millennials and Gen Z like their small little chat apps a lot more than they like their live outloud and share with the world model of Twitter. Bieber could leave Insta but he would never leave Twitter — I mean, 91.7M followers!
SF: If it does go away, how will that affect brands who do customer service on Twitter?
CA: Facebook and Instagram — and maybe also Snapchat and Pinterest — are better investments for brands. Their advertising offerings seem to be more effective. And then there’s YouTube, too, right?
So, aside from the fact that the Twitter handle has become a de facto internationally-recognized contact number second only to the URL, there are other sexier and stickier channels that people devote a lot more time to.
But everyone knows that they can actually get liked, retweeted, and responded to by their favorite brands and celebrities and influencers — or somebody repping them — and that’s rarely the case on Facebook.
SF: And the public who have grown used to a fast response via Twitter?
CA: Not going to happen. It can’t. It’s too useful to despots, strongmen, warlords, intelligence agencies, and authoritarians. And too useful for Wall Street, as we have seen as a direct result of Trump’s filterless chastising of anyone and everyone who displeases him.
SF: Or those who use it as a news source?
CA: Yeah, the real-time web just isn’t the same on Google or Facebook or anywhere else. Twitter really does still have the pulse. I feel like normal consumers use Twitter less as a news source, outside of celebrity news, than actual media outlets and so forth, although the app and the web interface is evolving to become a better and better filter with a much-improved algorithm.