Twitter is the first major consumer social company to lose users and start growing again in a meaningful way. Twitter celebrated it’s 14th birthday this weekend. We thought we’d commemorate its world-first resurgence and its continued importance as part of the social landscape for brands.
After appearing to meet the end of the road in early 2016, Twitter’s number of active users steadily increased again to now land at around 139 million daily users.
With every major development on the platform, people signal that this is the end of Twitter – including following this month’s announcement of the “fleets” feature. Despite this, the platform has shown its resilience to remain an important element of the social landscape for brands and individual users alike.
The platform once averse to change has relied upon two major adjustments to spearhead its regrowth and resurgence.
The first stage in the social media platform’s regrowth came after the company repositioned itself as a News app rather than a Social Networking app on the iOS and Android app stores. Now Twitter describes itself as “your go-to social networking app and the source for what’s happening in the world”.
It’s true, the app is one of the first that users pick up to find breaking news. Twitter knows this too, further detailing in their app description that “when it happens in the world, it happens on Twitter first”. In fact, take an example of local news – such as a police incident or a localised environmental protest – and where’s the first place you go to check out what’s happening? It’s not your local news outlet, it’s Twitter.
Without the requirement of gatekeeping, you find out the very latest direct from the horse’s mouth. This is what keeps Twitter at the forefront of social media platforms, even though its positioning and focus has changed towards breaking news.
The second strand of Twitter’s regrowth on the social landscape coincides directly to the platform taking responsibility for its trolling and abuse problem. The company began throttling accounts in early 2017 as well as removing verification badges from accounts which broke their political content rules.
They’ve also made steps to reduce the number of fake accounts and spambots on their social media platform. Twitter says they’ve managed to reduce reports of spam and suspicious behaviour on the platform by 18%. Whilst this resulted in a lot of the platform’s “decreased usage”, Twitter’s new usage metrics report the number of ‘monetizable’ users on the platform and this has steadily grown.
Twitter announced earlier in March that it has expanded its policy on hateful tweets by now including age, disability and disease as part of unacceptable conduct on the platform.
Widening their criteria for hate speech shows that Twitter is making moves to make their social network a safe space for all people, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, ability and health.
These two factors have helped push Twitter back into people’s mindsets when it comes to social media and the daily usage stats from the platform reflects that. However, for the average user, Twitter has become a home to fandom and meme content.
Whether it be discussion groups for Love Island, Strictly Come Dancing or Eurovision, these are blossoming on the social platform and allow people to find other users who discuss similar topics and become part of fandoms for their favourite TV shows. The true meaning of social media is being re-established on the platform that truly favours ‘live’ news dialogue about exactly what is happening right now.
The future remains bright for Twitter. Keep engaging with it and it will continue to reward us. Yes, it requires a very different approach to the other platforms. Jumping onto hashtags as they become trending news rather than setting the talking points yourself, brands can and should live amongst the news on Twitter and engage existing audiences on their level with content they want to see.