Twitter, are you ok?

This week Twitter revealed a 41% fall in share value since October, when Jack Dorsey was named CEO.  Personally I’ve been a fan of the social media networking site, since falling out of love with Facebook in 2009.  For me, in a personal capacity, Facebook quickly became a time drain, full of unfamiliar faces I’d grown up with, and whiling away the hours reading updates from people I hadn’t spoken to in years. Pure nosiness if you will.

According to the Guardian Twitter ‘now claims 320 million users every month, 79% of whom are outside the US. But investors are concerned that audience is no longer growing rapidly, and Dorsey has made user growth the key metric to watch in his turnaround effort.’

For me, Twitter has always been unique.  Focussing on the real-time, an always on medium of breaking stories, an insight into the unknown, a place to spark conversations, all in under 140 characters… and in the PR industry, it feels fundamental to everything we do.  I’ve built relationships with future colleagues, pitched news stories to journalists, and struck up conversations and relationships with people I’d never have spoken to, including my now best friend. Yes it’s all very public, but there’s still a community feel that I just never got from my private network on Facebook.

There are of course negatives, with Twitter failing to attract new users who just ‘don’t get it’! As a public platform it’s also had a fair share of negative press as a result of internet trolls, the introduction of promoted tweets, rumoured extension of the much loved snappy 140 limit, and a lack of verification for ‘breaking news’.  But when it works, it’s just brilliant. Watching live events unfold, on the scene reporting, a coming together of opinions, and last month alone, an outpouring of grief for the loss of a number of the nation’s much-loved celebrities. But as a non-PR does it ‘just become’ another customer service platform, or a place to see what the Beckham’s ate for lunch?

In the much talked about New Yorker article this weekend. Further failures are identified as ‘a series of mediocre product changes (such as the much-hyped but ultimately confusing Moments feature), a stagnant user base, and a massive executive brain drain have called into question whether Twitter can survive as a business. In the past week, the company has lost its vice-president of media, V.P. of product (to Instagram, natch), its head of the growing video service Vine (to Google), its V.P. of engineering, and its H.R. head. Unsurprisingly, the company’s stock has lost about fifty per cent of its value over the past three months.’

Quick on the news of the site’s demise, newer and nimble social platforms are nipping at its heels… Last week, the Independent reported that ‘Snapchat could be about to undergo a major redesign that will see it focus on video calling and stickers’, while on Monday, the news was all about WhatsApp reaching a billion monthly users. ‘The Facebook-owned app now outperforms the social network’s own Messenger mobile app, which has 800 million monthly users.’ And there are big plans afoot.  According to the Financial Times ‘Jan Koum, Co-Founder and Chief Executive of the messaging app, told the DLD technology conference that WhatsApp is scrapping the 99-cent annual fee it charges consumers after a year. He said the company would instead focus on making businesses pay to connect with its 900m users.  In a blogpost, the company said it will test tools to allow users to communicate with organisations on the platform. “That could mean communicating with your bank about whether a recent transaction was fraudulent, or with an airline about a delayed flight”, adding that it wanted to find a way of doing this in a way that did not rely on advertising.’ Meanwhile Instagram told the Financial Times that ‘it would rapidly expand its advertising model and ramp up its efforts with small businesses and users outside the US.’

For our clients we run a number of integrated social campaigns across a variety of platforms, best suited to each target demographic. And there are plenty of options to choose from… Afterall everyone has a preference to the type of information they receive, the format and level of detail shared.

Returning to the New Yorker, journalist Joshua Topolsky writes: ‘In 2011, Jack Dorsey told the audience at the Wall Street Journal’s AllThingsD conference that, when people ask what Twitter is, “We don’t have an answer, and that’s O.K.” When he said it, he meant it as a positive: Twitter is what you make of it.’

But did Twitter ever have an answer? And maybe that’s why it’s not ok…

Our consumer lifestyle PR team specialise in connecting everyday brands with everyday people across four core sectors; Consumer Lifestyle PR, Food & Drink PR, Consumer Technology PR and Sport, Health & Wellbeing PR. More information on these areas of knowledge can be found at www.escapadepr.com/about-us.