Why Twitter Is Thrashing: Seeking the Magic Money Piñata

Why Twitter Is Thrashing: Seeking the Magic Money Piñata

So far Twitter has been a mixed bag for investors. Once any company cashes out and goes public, they have a new group of people (shareholders) to answer to. And if you believed in Twitter at the launch of their IPO and purchased a good amount of stock, you’re probably frustrated at the continual decline of the stock price since highs in January 2014.


But shareholder value is not Twitter’s problem, finding a way to make us pay for Twitter is the magic formula they’ve been tweaking and praying over since the beginning. Twitter loses money, a lot of money. And shareholders are ready for the geniuses to give them Facebook-like returns. But Twitter’s financials seem to be going in the opposite direction.


And now they are thrashing around trying to break things in hopes of finding a piñata. But there’s no gold inside these ideas.

  • Increase the character limit above 140c.
  • Unlimited characters in Direct Messages.
  • Kill the free reporting of Tweet shares.

Twitter needs to find better ways, and I’m not sure what the options are. But all three of these innovations are BAD BAD BAD.

Increase the character limit above 140c

Seriously? This is what gave Twitter it’s magic. Get to the point. Larger messages are posts, or emails, or something else. The Tweet should be like a short birdsong. It’s possible they will try this as a different app, but that’s a long road. Let’s hope this one dies.

Unlimited characters in Direct Messages

First off, direct messages are the spam of Twitter. Please, do something smart and turn off the “from anyone” option.uber-dm-note

That’s a start, but Twitter needs to kill the auto-responder option that floods our DM in boxes with “Thanks for following, now follow me on FB.” And the TruTwit validation service that’s trying to keep spammers out of the users following, but it’s clogging up the DM inbox with validation requests. I’ve never validated one TruTwit user. And I won’t. Twitter should kill TruTwit and take control of their own spam issue.

But Spam is the biggest issue Twitter has right now, and the way forward there is much more difficult.

What if you learned that 40% of all Twitter traffic was generated by bots and indian-based spammers? And what if Twitter one day, decided to kill all bot and fake accounts. And they deleted the abandoned accounts. (Heck, I’ve got 7 – 8 Twitter accounts I haven’t used in years.) This would be a suicide move. Twitter’s success as a company is based on the idea that the size and growth of Twitter is massive and eventually profit-driven. That’s not the case right now. Let’s hope the Twitter executives don’t throw out the baby with the bath water as they try to rejigger the mix.

Kill the free reporting of Tweet shares

If Twitter were no longer a numbers game, but a real social media system, we wouldn’t care how many followers you have. But it’s a publishing and marketing platform, and there numbers mean everything. If Twitter is serious about killing the “shares” data from public viewing, that means they are planning on charging for it somewhere else. While I’d love to see Followers and Following numbers suppressed as well, that’s not going to happen. And it wouldn’t take Guy Kawasaki’s business model, it would just keep the egregious nature of his spamminess away from our view.

Twitter is a hard nut to crack. It’s engine in the constant renewal of new users. But the users are dropping off more quickly due to the complex nature of the program and the overwhelming number of spam and scam accounts.

For Twitter to be more than a social media company hemorrhaging money, they’ve got to reinvent what they are doing.

Here was my first attempt at giving them some ideas in Nov. 2013: The Forced Evolution of Twitter

This post continues here: Twitter is Having a Come-To-Jesus Moment

John McElhenney
@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

Reference: Is Twitter Seriously Removing Share Counts? Why Would They Do This? – Warfare Plugins

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