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4 min read

What’s the Future for Twitter?

The demise of any of the social networks and indeed any internet-related discipline such as SEO are discussed and predicted widely online constantly. For years now we’ve heard the death bell toll for SEO, for G+ and even for Facebook, despite its status as the most popular social media site in the world. Twitter too has had its fair share of predicted deaths and is the latest victim of much discussion, since the micro-blogging platform is still struggling to monetize the platform and provide a ROI for investors.

It’s true that Twitter is losing users and that some analysts believe that it’s exhausted its userbase and won’t see further user growth. But it’s also encouraging that the company has seen a 97% increase in advertising revenues. However, speculation still abounds that Twitter, like many of its peers, is dying. Last year, The Atlantic published a eulogy on the social media site and more recently, Ryan Barrell writing for The Huffington Post described the social media site's strategy as “digging its own grave”.

Ryan sets out the argument that Twitter is trying too hard to be Facebook and it’s this, he says, that will be the site’s undoing, just as it was when Facebook came along and blew MySpace out of the water – which is now kind of successful as a home for music makers. Twitter and Facebook are two very different sites though, and whilst Twitter might be attempting to emulate Facebook in terms of monetization models, it can’t when it comes to the layout and content that its rival gives its users that encourage them to remain on the site. Video for example is proving to be hugely successful on Facebook but whilst Twitter does allow users to post video it’s not a feature that we’ve seen used to the same extent as on Facebook as yet.

Google Deal and Mobile Video

The death of any social network always appears to be overblown and drawn out. When it comes to Twitter, there are indicators that the site could be in trouble – a falling user base despite soaring revenues and a dip in the company’s stock over the course of a couple of years. This doesn’t mean that the site is failing and will die, but what it does mean is that the site will have to change and innovate if it’s to keep up.

And that appears to be happening. Not only did the company recently announce that it’s agreed a deal with Google to help capture logged out users in search, but it’s also confirmed that it will be pushing out promoted tweets to syndicated feeds on other platforms such as Flipboard.

It’s thought that Twitter will continue to innovate in the area of mobile video, with CEO Dick Costolo telling CNBC that there’s “a lot more coming on the mobile video front.” He also stated that he is personally involved with mobile video and for the creation of a ‘logged out homepage’ which it’s thought will decrease the current barriers-to-entry for those that don’t have a Twitter account.

Fast-moving Platform

Twitter is of course a fast-moving site which allows people to interact with celebrities in such a way that they can’t on other sites such as Facebook. That’s not to say that they don’t interact on other platforms, but Twitter is the one that famous faces seem to love. Twitter has a fast-moving newsfeed that it’s difficult to keep up with if you have a lot of followers. I’ve personally found Twitter to be the best platform for quickly raising your profile and distributing content. It gains far more engagement than Facebook in general and you can grow your following quickly, and they can be targeted more effectively than Facebook. Twitter advertising is still in its infancy but so far, I’ve had good results and there are a lot of services around which are dedicated to Twitter and to helping you grow your profile where there’s a lack for other sites.

It’s an inherently different platform to Facebook and whilst Twitter may be attempting to ape some of Mark Zuckerberg’s monetization techniques, it’s not – as Ryan Barrell states – attempting to copy Facebook. Mobile and video are the way forward simply because they are popular. People are increasingly using smartphones to connect and mobile video consumption has risen dramatically in just a couple of years – it would be madness not to attempt to exploit it.

Apps, Tweets and Exposure

Twitter is struggling to increase and even maintain its userbase. But it should be borne in mind that users don’t always logon to the site too. Many people use third party software such as Tweetdeck to manage their accounts, Hootsuite and other scheduling software also allows users to manage Twitter from outside of the site. So these must be taken into consideration.

It’s also worth remembering that the media now publishes reactions to news on stories from Twitter very often which extends the reach of the platform hugely – this rarely seems to be mentioned in the sites which predict its demise. Engagement on Twitter doesn’t always happen directly on the site, is my point here, but that’s not to say that it doesn’t happen at all.

How Twitter develops in the coming year will be interesting. There’s little doubt that it has to find ways to innovate and at least keep up with changes on Facebook and other social networks. However, there’s very little to say that the micro-blogging platform is dying, as any die-hard (no pun intended) user will more than likely tell you. Twitter might be struggling to up its users, but those that are there are loyal and whilst Facebook does have the advantage when it comes to time spent on site, Twitter advertising has its own targeting that could prove very useful to brands and marketers this year.

Twitter is a hotbed of viral marketing, when something takes off on the site it can propagate around the internet at lightning speed and for this reason alone, plus the addition reach its posts gain through news sites, it’s very unlikely that we’ll see the site struggle anytime soon. We will see it evolve though, as it does still need to monetize and answer to investors.

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