I’ve said it before, and it remains true: Twitter is, by a long-shot, my favorite social network. It has crossed my mind, at times, that the reason I prefer Twitter over some of the others is the fact that many of the people I know IRL simply don’t use it. Twitter still has that “elite club” feel for some of us; after all, our moms & most of our high school friends still haven’t found their way to the social network.
Which, is very good.
Unless you’re Twitter.
In regards to Twitter new users, the platform is relatively flat. Only 1 million people in the US joined Twitter last quarter, according to Business Insider, and the social network was only up 9 million worldwide from the same time in 2003. Reportedly, up to one billion people have tried Twitter and quit, which obviously isn’t helping the social network’s confidence level.
Vivian Schiller, Head of News at Twitter, believes that much of the problem comes from the very architecture of the network itself– “@” replies and hashtags –which she called out as being “arcane”. Twitter CEO Dick Costelo echoed a similar belief in the same BI report referenced above.
— Ben Smith (@BuzzFeedBen) March 17, 2014
Following these joint declarations, numerous reports emerged that Twitter was considering phasing out things such as “@” replies, in favor for a more organic one-to-one communication structure. In fact, Buzzfeed caught what appears to be Twitter’s new timeline conversation line from an Android user. This looks similar to what we already see on our desktop TLs, with the “@” and user handle completely removed.
While I’m all for Twitter testing out new things, I don’t really believe they understand the true reason why Twitter hasn’t caught on with “regular Joe’s”.
Facebook & Twitter are very much different, but for more reasons than just their “architecture”. For me, Facebook is a place that I only connect to people I know. Whether HS friends or family or co-workers (although, even that last one is limited), my ‘friend’ count has remained around the 300 mark for some time. It is a place I share photos (mostly of PorkChop, my English Bulldog/Pug hybrid) and update my profile with a new job title when I have one.
Twitter, on the other hand, is more of a world-wide news network. Between my two accounts, I follow around 3100 people; and, slightly more than that follow me. Most of these people I do not know IRL, and, likely, never will. It’s less personal, more business. And entertaining.
Twitter’s like, a giant online conference, with comedians in one booth, nerds in another, beautiful women in the next booth, and sports next to that. You get to sample from everything; without getting too personal.
People, generally, don’t use Twitter as an archive– there are no photo albums or places to update life events. Comparing the two, and therefore, saying that one should be doing more to be like the other, is probably incorrect, and potentially, alienating to Twitter’s existing core users. Twitter new users counts may stagnate, but that doesn’t mean the company can’t work to improve, and better monetize, the social network.
Maybe, just maybe, “regular people” will never understand Twitter. And, maybe, that’s just the way some of us prefer it.