There’s been a lot of speculation lately on the purpose of Twitter and if it’s creators are keeping up with the times. While Twitter’s changes have happened arguably slower than say Facebook or Snapchat the platform is far from dying. Twitter is like the girl who insisted on getting bangs and now that she has them, she hates them. So what does she do? She starts the process of growing them out. That’s right, Twitter is currently growing out it’s bangs.
It’s no secret that to last in the social world you’ve got to be able to monetize your product. In the words of DJ Quick: if it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense. The argument with Twitter is that while the social site has figured out how to monetize their business currently, it is unclear on how that will look in three years, or if it will even be possible. Especially when content is limited to 140 characters.
Companies go through low points sometimes, that is why the idea of rebranding exists. You have to come out of the gate with something new every once in awhile and show the haters that you’re still in it for the long run, just like the girl with the horrible bangs. Personally, I think Twitter is here to stay, but I also think the folks over at Twitter need to forget about why they launched the site and accept the fact that it has evolved into something else, something greater if you ask me.
1. It is a sounding board for injustices happening all across the world.
Think about the hacktivists group anonymous, who recently began releasing the names of high profile leaders in this country who are also associated with the KKK. Or what about the hundreds of Nigerian girls who are still missing? People are demanding their return to this day with the hashtag #BringOurGirlsBack. Even the Boston Marathon Bombing unfolded on Twitter, not via a news organization, but by people who were on the ground as it was happening (some of whom happened to be journalists, but still). Journalists can’t be everywhere at once, no matter how hard they try, these major events and the updates that came with them are proof of Twitter’s importance in our lives today.
2. It is a news outlet for the generation that doesn’t read the newspaper.
The fact is, more than half of Twitter users say that they use it as their online news source and while most of those users are millennials, not all are. Why go to a news site, local or national, when you can search a hashtag, get the gist of an article and see that your best friend from high school is eating Chipotle for lunch all on the same platform? While news outlets in the past have only used Twitter for breaking news and office shenanigans their use of the microblogging site has changed because they recognized readers were no longer going to their website to read stories. Instead, these news organizations went to where their readers (or potentials readers) are. Even Twitter itself announced its own IPO via 140 characters. The death of Twitter could also mean the (second) death of news because let’s face it, most people won’t take the time to go to a news site and read the trending stories.
3. It is why #BlackLivesMatter still has a voice.
The #BlackLivesMatter hashtag is almost three years old, yet it is still going strong on Twitter. While it may be because more than half of the platforms users are people of color, it is also because there is no other platform or news outlet giving an hourly (and sometimes quicker) play by play of what is going on. While activists such as Deray and Zellie could spend their days solely being interviewed by the press, it doesn’t do much for them when their words get construed to mean something else. Twitter has allowed Blacks and allies alike to voice their frustrations, opinions and updates on the movement faster than any news outlet ever could.
There seems to be this expectation for Twitter to follow Facebook’s lead, but if users wanted Twitter to become more like Facebook, they’d just get on Facebook. Getting the news, sharing updates or trying to persuade someone to purchase a product in 140 characters or less is no easy job. To me, it’s not so much about what Twitter will do to keep from dying, it’s what brands, advertisers and publications will do to stay relevant on a site that is so simple people are finding ways to complicate it. While it is true that Twitter executives have a lot to think about in the coming years, the websites departure is highly unlikely. Instead of speculating, users should be supportive while the site grows out its bangs, gets highlights and transforms.