I signed up on Twitter was on a Motorola ZN200 phone that opened the web in a mobile format and responsive websites were something we’d never heard of. I even signed up for text notifications. WhatsApp was yet to be conceived and a 500 MB internet pack would last you over a month because 2G speeds wouldn’t let you exploit them. Twitter on mobile looked much like it does now but the desktop version was similar too. There was more of text and less of images and videos. The entire purpose of being on Twitter was to know what everyone you’re following was up to and let your followers stay up to date on your ideas and experiences. A text message gave you 160 characters and a direct line to someones phone, but Twitter gave you 20 characters less and a broadcast network that spread across the globe.
They haven’t changed their format or layout drastically to keep up, the addition of polls might be a good strategy but maybe a bit late.
The strategy worked, the network grew. And it grew fast. Even established sites like Facebook were surprised by the rate at which Twitter was adding new users and tried to rival the site with features that wouldn’t make a dent in it’s armour. Twitter was fast and just looking up trending topics would bring you up to date with the ongoing events around the world. Much has changed since then, Twitter has had to make it safer for users and feature-rich to keep the interest going. But the popularity of Twitter lies intact with the users regularly flocking to the website. The growth however has slowed down, with 2015 being their slowest in the U.S. Which is a bit of a concern considering their recent addition of polls and changing favourites to like. Unlike Facebook, whose strategy to throw a new feature at you every few months to keep users active and sell ads, Twitter has been about refinement. They haven’t changed their format or layout drastically to keep up, the addition of polls might be a good strategy but maybe a bit late. Facebook had it years ago with most people being not very excited about it. And the like hasn’t gone down well with users either considering the reaction on the network itself and browser plugin that changes the like back to star, on the website, going up within hours of
Twitter has managed to stand the test of time without much change and in the technology sector, that virtue can only take you so far. Facebook is aggressively working towards getting more users signed up with Internet.org but Twitter, for the lack of resources, will have to add features and services that keep them in business. One place where social networks do well are marketing. Whether it’s a product, service or publication. Twitter can make its money by charging for this service that it’s providing. Facebook already has a lead in tying up with publications to host their content on Facebook, making sure that users don’t leave the app to read an article they come across. The longer they engage a user, brighter will their chances be of staying in the race. While Twitter may have realised that, other companies are already working on it. For instance, Lumi is an app that uses your Twitter feed to give you a list of articles that you’d be interested in and asks for you whether you liked or disliked it to give better suggestions in the future. Twitter is also a realy fast platform, you might find an article interesting but skip it for the updates on the hashtag or account grab your attention. Services like Pocket and Instapaper capitalise on it to be on the go to reading app for articles. It would be nice to see Twitter gauge the services it’s helping sustain and maybe add a feature or two to keep us in the app longer. I for sure wouldn’t mind that.