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Twitter is focusing on conversation

Posted 18.03.19

Whatever you may think of Twitter, love it, loathe it, only use it to see what crazy thing Donald Trump will tweet each morning, the platform has become the social platform for conversation (good and bad).

It’s true that the current US President’s use of the platform has been good for user growth, and business at Twitter. The company was profitable in 2018 and added 6 million new monthly users in Q4 2017 and between Q2 2017 and Q2 2018, growth stood at 11%.

A healthier and
valuable everyday service

Following the share price of Twitter jumping-up by more than 17% in October 2018, after the company posted higher than expected earnings in Q3, CEO Jack Dorsey said: “We’re achieving meaningful progress in our efforts to make Twitter a healthier and valuable everyday service,”.

Part of Twitter’s success has come from the app becoming a daily habit for users, creating that ‘stickiness’ that was once only afforded to Facebook. Pew’s Research found that 46% of Twitter users in the US visit the site at least once a day, and daily active users were up 9% in Q3 2018 compared with the year previous.

Not only that but Twitter is becoming a power news source for users across the globe. Around 25% of all verified accounts belong to journalists and a recent study found 74% of all Twitter users in the US use the app to get their news.

The dark side of the news

Whilst Twitter has seen an increase in user numbers and daily active users it is still battling fake accounts and bots who at one stage had overrun the platform. However, they seem to be fighting back with Twitter analytics tool, Followerwonk reporting that in a 30 day period in March last year they had deleted or suspended over 5 million accounts.

Seemingly Twitter hasn’t slowed down either with a Washington Post article from July 2018, stating that Twitter suspended more than 70 million accounts in May and June, and the pace has continued in July.

In October, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said: “We’re doing a better job detecting and removing spammy and suspicious accounts at sign-up. This quarter’s strong results prove we can prioritize the long-term health of Twitter while growing the number of people who participate in public conversation.”

Enriching the Experience

As well as looking to purge the platform of bots and fake accounts Twitter has over the last year looked to move away from the rigid 140-character limit that had been at its core and explore at ways of enriching the experience for current and new users.

The character-count has doubled, in most countries, to 280 and in late 2017 officially introduced ‘threads’ to allow users to post a series of connected tweets. Following this Twitter has launched the (slightly ill-fated) “Moments” feature along with the “Explore” feature and numerous tweaks to notifications, all designed for users to find and follow big events and news.

Last year in October, Twitter CFO Ned Segel told CNBC: “We continue to improve all kinds of things around the service, from the notifications you get around Twitter to continuing to improve the timeline. Our onboarding process can get much better as well. We just need to make it easier for people to find the things that people are looking for on Twitter.”

As well as this, the platform has been working hard to increase transparency around advertising on the platform (though some would say this is a little late) and from June 2018, made it possible for anyone to be able to search for a Twitter account and see all the ads it has run in the past week.

Twitter’s next step

This week Twitter launched, to a select group of testers, a new prototype app; “Twttr”. The app is a testing-ground for Twitter to look at ways of curating and finding conversations easier on the platform as well as make the experience more welcoming for new users (a long-time issue for Twitter).

In a detailed breakdown of the app, Techcrunch has laid-out how the experience differs from Twitter, initially focused on changes to replies, with the goal of making longer conversations easier to read.

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, tweeted; “Notice our new prototype? @jack and I named and designed it based on old times. It’s called, “twttr.” The bird flew away from the app icon representing: Simplicity. Blue sky thinking. We’re re-working. Not there yet; hence, no logo. Bold and a little weird. #LetsHaveAConvo.”

As experts in social conversation, we can only see the benefit of a more user-friendly experience on Twitter, focused on conversation. Not only do we see this as the future of Twitter but it’s a future we are betting on as an agency. At Wilderness we start and shape conversations that connect with global audiences and the best place to do this in the future may well be Twitter.

Tom Jarvis, Founder & Managing Director – Wilderness Agency