Is Twitter Dying?

10 Apr

Recently, I attended a great networking event in Madison filled with enthusiastic social media gurus.  And as I joined a group of folks, I was happy to learn they were discussing something that I had been mulling over myself.  The topic was Twitter; is it worth it?  While Twitter is considered one of the major platforms in the social media arena, it does require a lot of attention, and recently, articles have been describing its declining popularity.  Interestingly, the group I was talking with was united in its thought that no, Twitter was no longer worth the effort.  So, I began to wonder, when it comes to digital marketing, is Twitter worth it, or is it dying?

While the poll of my peers may be anecdotal, there is recent data that illustrates the decline of Twitter use recently.  At the end of 2018, Twitter reported that it had 9 million fewer Active Monthly Users than it had at the end of 2017.  Five million of those users left in the fourth quarter.  Interestingly, Twitter also announced that it will no longer publish the Active Monthly Users statistic.  Instead, it will publish Daily Monetizable Active Users.  This is a statistic that other social media platforms do not currently use, so those outside of Twitter will no longer be able to effectively compare Twitter to other platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.  If you’re thinking that Twitter’s drop in popularity may be just a sign that people are leaving social media in general, know that Facebook added 49 million users in the fourth quarter of 2018.  Even in the wake of major public relations issues, Facebook is still king and Twitter is losing ground.

So, what’s up with Twitter?  What could be the reasons behind the recent and increasingly rapid decline?  And, what does it mean for your business' or organization’s digital marketing strategy?  Here are a few thoughts:

  • Politics - Twitter has become politically saturated.  It is the #1 platform for government leaders, and according to Pew Research, 71% of Twitter users (12% of all Americans) are reading news on the platform.  Perhaps, this will be Twitter’s niche in the coming years, but it is losing the entertainment value that can be found on Instagram or Facebook.  A 2017 survey from the American Psychological Association found that “More than half of Americans say the news causes them stress, and many report feeling anxiety, fatigue or sleep loss as a result”.  For those who were initially drawn to Twitter for social media entertainment and up-to-the-minute pop culture news, the influx of political information and current events may be turning them away.
  • Bots - Twitter isn’t just a community of people; it is filled with information that is being distributed to users by bots.  According to a Pew Research study conducted in the summer of 2017, “Around two-thirds (66%) of the tweeted links the Center examined were shared by suspected bots, or automated accounts that can generate or distribute content without direct human oversight.”  When social media content is not organic at its base, people will not connect to it, which can result in leaving the platform. 
  • Time – In order to use Twitter effectively for digital marketing purposes, an organization needs to post, on average, 15 times per day, according to Quick Sprout, a leading online marketing agency.  That rate of posting is more than is recommended for Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn, combined.  For those who have left Twitter, it may have been too much work for the financial return.  Many think that social media is a free marketing platform for their business or organization, but if you consider how much time it actually takes to tweet 15 times a day, and multiply that by the hourly rate of the person posting, it adds up in a hurry.

Is it time to put your social media marketing efforts elsewhere?  It's definitely something to consider, but would not be recommended for everyone.  There are many organizations whose target audiences are Twitter users such as non-profits or for-profit organizations whose interests involve public policy, such as those in the healthcare, insurance, or education arenas.  If your organization's mission requires the attention of lawmakers and policy influencers, then a social media presence on Twitter would definitely be part of your social media strategy.  In fact, the recent politicization of Twitter may already be working to your advantage by corralling your audience.

For me, even as a digital marketing professional and social media enthusiast, I no longer post on Twitter with a personal or business account.  Oh sure, I still have a Twitter account so that I can keep an eye on it for my business.  However, the platform is no longer a match for my target audience and no longer worthy of the investment of my time, given the return.  Obviously, the social media world changes quicker than most, so it’s worth keeping up on the trends, but now is an excellent time to ask, "Is Twitter worth it?"


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